Video link could cut cancer waits
VIDEO-conferencing is to link doctors across West Suffolk so they can share news on diagnoses and treatments without having to travel.The new telemedicine system - being officially launched next Tuesday by theWest Anglia Cancer Network and Macmillan Cancer Relief, at West Suffolk Hospital in Bury St Edmunds - is set to improve patient care and communication between hospital cancer teams across the region.
By Tracey Sparling
VIDEO-conferencing is to link doctors across West Suffolk so they can share news on diagnoses and treatments without having to travel.
The new telemedicine system – being officially launched next Tuesday by the West Anglia Cancer Network and Macmillan Cancer Relief, at West Suffolk Hospital in Bury St Edmunds – is set to improve patient care and communication between hospital cancer teams across the region.
The project links the regional cancer centre at Addenbrooke's and Papworth hospitals with cancer units at Peterborough, West Suffolk, Bedford, King's Lynn, Hinchingbrooke, and Harlow hospitals, covering a population of 1.6million people.
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The telemedicine system is being funded by the Cambridge e Science Centre, Macmillan Cancer Relief and Siemens Medical Solutions, and is already making a big difference for regular meetings of the gynaeoncology and upper gastro-intestinal disorders teams.
This is the first time cancer teams have had access to videoconferencing along with medical data and slide images, which allow full discussion of cancer care and treatment for patients without the need for face-to-face meetings.
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The technology will also help speed up cancer services and help hospitals meet government targets including a maximum two-week wait between a patient being referred by their GP as an urgent case of suspected cancer and an appointment with a specialist consultant.
Peggy Meredith, Anglia service development manager for Macmillan Cancer Relief, said: "Clinicians had been travelling large distances to provide services. This technology should cut down travelling, and free up precious time for clinical work.
"It will also help provide continuity of care for people with cancer who may travel between different hospitals for different types of treatment. By allowing clinicians to discuss individual cases with specialist physicians at other hospitals it will also encourage sharing of expertise and best practice – helping to raise standards, aid clinical decision making and improve patient care generally."
Pam Evans, cancer services development manager at West Suffolk NHS Trust, added: "The teleconferencing capability means that our clinicians no longer have to spend their time driving down the A14 to Cambridge to meet with their colleagues.
"Local patients will also benefit directly from having to make fewer visits to Addenbrooke's in Cambridge themselves."