THE health trust behind Portsmouth’s Queen Alexandra Hospital has the most improved cancer services in the country.
And health secretary Andrew Lansley visited QA in Cosham yesterday, to see for himself what is offered.
In just a year, the hospital has improved in areas such as giving patients better information, providing more treatment options and seeing patients more quickly.
The results come from a cancer care survey that was delivered last year.
In all, 1,365 patients were sent the survey, and 890 completed it.
Mr Lansley was given a tour of some of the cancer services offered and spoke to two breast cancer patients.
He said: ‘I was very impressed with what I saw and the improvements made.
‘We want to put the patients at the heart of what we do and it was great to hear from two who were pleased with their experience.’
One of the procedures that impressed Mr Lansley was QA’s development of the sentinel lymph node assay.
The process involves checking a breast cancer patient’s lymph nodes while they are under anaesthetic for a lump removal, to ensure the cancer has not spread.
If it has, then the lymph nodes are removed at the same time.
‘I was very impressed with the work done on lymph nodes,’ said Mr Lansley.
‘Doing that while the patient is still in the hospital cuts out any extra days of worrying or waiting around.’
Constantinos Yiangou, Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust’s chief of surgery and cancer, said: ‘Over the years, we’ve created a unit offering the latest treatments and we’re very pleased that so many patients are happy with our service.
‘The sentinel lymph node assay has been successful because it’s so quick and accurate. It’s been used on 1,400 patients so far.’
Delia Simmonds, of Montserrat Road, Lee-on-the-Solent, was diagnosed with breast cancer in May this year.
The 68-year-old had a mastectomy in July to stop the further spread of cancer.
During that procedure her lymph nodes were checked, and it was found they were not affected.
She said: ‘I’m very pleased with the care and support I get from the team. If I want to see my specialist cancer nurse, I can ring her and get an appointment on the same day.’
ABOUT 70,000 cancer patients were surveyed nationally – including those from the Portsmouth area who get treatment from QA.
Here are the areas in which Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust achieved success according to patients’ views.
Given clear answers – 89 per cent say they received understandable answers to important questions all or most of the time.
Treated with dignity – 94 per cent say they were always given enough privacy when examined or treated.
Seen quickly – 83 per cent feel they were seen as soon as necessary by a hospital doctor.
Treated with respect – 82 per cent feel they were told sensitively they had cancer.
Given a choice of treatment – 84 per cent say they were given a choice of different types of cancer treatment.
TOP QA CANCER TREATMENTS
1. Breast services – Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust offers a procedure in which the sentinel lymph node is removed and examined to check if cancerous cells are present. This is done during the operation so that the patient only needs one round of surgery and anaesthetic.
Breast reconstruction surgery also takes place when cancerous breast tissue is found, to restore the breast shape after a mastectomy.
2. Colorectal – This service offers laparoscopic or keyhole surgery. This is a modern surgical technique in which operations are performed through small incisions in a patient rather than using open surgery.
This reduces recovery time, as well as pain. At QA the keyhole surgery equipment was bought using funds from the Rocky Appeal charity and they are currently raising money to buy a robot to perform this surgery.
3. Upper gastrointestinal (GI) tract – One of QA’s doctors has devised a mixture of acetic acid, also known as vinegar, and other chemicals to diagnose cancer at early stages. The acetic acid highlights the cancerous cells which would not be visible on conventional endoscopy, which is used to look inside organs.
These can then be removed safety using the endoscope which saves the need to perform more invasive surgery.
4. Head and neck – QA has the number one surgeon for laparoscopic and robotic surgery in the UK.
It also offers intensity modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) which is high-precision radiotherapy using computers to deliver precise radiation doses to a malignant tumours or specific areas within the tumour. The head and neck service was also highlighted in the cancer survey as the service patients were most pleased with.
5. Urology - Queen Alexandra Hospital also offers a comprehensive keyhole surgery and brachytherapy service, which is another advanced cancer treatment.
It involves radioactive seeds or sources being placed in or near the tumour itself, giving a high radiation dose to the tumour.