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Health and care services across Wakefield are joining forces to offer a new approach to delivering earlier diagnosis and reducing the prevalence of one of the region’s biggest killers.

Members of Wakefield’s Health and Wellbeing Board (January 25) agreed proposals put forward by Professor Sean Duffy – Clinical Lead for the West Yorkshire and Harrogate Cancer Alliance - for a wide-ranging programme of work to tackle lung cancer across the district, through four specific programmes of work:

  • Support people to stop smoking, including those already receiving treatment in the NHS for smoking-related illnesses, by using every patient contact to offer help to quit
  • Raise awareness of early signs and symptoms; so people seek information and advice earlier than is often the case, making more cancers curable
  • Develop a pilot ‘lung health check’ scheme to invite for screening those identified in the community or through their GP as most at risk of cancer, using low dose CT scanning in community venues, such as supermarket or community centre car parks
  • Improve the experience for those affected by lung cancer by ensuring care and treatment pathways are as speedy and efficient as possible

Wakefield and Bradford have been highlighted as two key areas for the initial phase of the Alliance-backed programme, as they offer the greatest potential for change in patient outcomes, due to current higher level of smoking and poor health outcomes related to this. The proposal accepted creates a local health and care partnership between the local council, providers of NHS services (hospitals, mental health, GPs and community services) and commissioning organisations to be established in order to drive the four-pronged programme across the two areas.

Regional funding of £12.4million has already been secured by the Cancer Alliance through the National Cancer Transformation Fund, which will support early diagnosis across West Yorkshire and Harrogate. The Curing Lung Cancer programme will be an integral part of that work. Detailed implementation plans have yet to be developed and costed but will indicate the contribution in kind to be made by each of the partners, alongside the £900,000 to be invested by the Cancer Alliance.

Detailed implementation plans have yet to be developed. Planning work will include the commissioning of CT scanning equipment; preparatory work with GPs and community services; recruitment of staff to carry out lung health checks and work with hospital teams.

One year survival rates for lung cancer across the region are broadly as good as the England average (38%). The Alliance ambition is for all patients across the area to have the best possible outcomes, but at present some places have worse survival rates than others.

In the West Yorkshire and Harrogate areas there are currently more than 330,000 smokers, which is a major contributing factor to lung cancer being the most common cancer affecting people in the area. Earlier this month, Professor Duffy and Scott Crosby of Public Health England, also the Alliance’s Tobacco Control Manager, were involved in the launch of the NHS Smokefree Pledge in Westminster. The Alliance is backing the pledge, which asks NHS organisations to commit to help smokers in their care to quit and to creating smokefree environments that support them to do so.