How Sue got involved
Five years ago, an audit looked at the contact people have with the NHS prior to being diagnosed with cancer. Now, alongside Macmillan Cancer Support and the Royal College of General Practitioners, we’re coordinating an audit looking at the contact people have with the NHS prior to being diagnosed with cancer.
Sue, one of the patient representatives on the project’s steering group, tells us about her role and how she got involved.
Why did you get involved in the audit?
My husband was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2001, aged 48. It was too late for surgery and he died in 2003. After his death, I got involved in cancer advocacy locally, regionally and nationally through cancer charities, the local cancer network, NCRI, NCIN, NICE and APPG on Cancer etc. Then, I myself was diagnosed with stage 3a ovarian cancer in 2015 following the newly published NICE ovarian cancer guidelines. In both my husband's case and mine, the GP acted promptly but it was secondary care where the cancer was possibly missed. I applied to be a patient rep on this audit to see whether there had been any recent improvements in reducing time to diagnosis, and whether the information gained in the audit could help to improve diagnosis in future.
What contribution have you made so far?
I was able to point out some symptoms that had been missed from the list based on the new NICE referral for suspected cancer guidelines. I was also able to point out additional ways of publicising the audit to GPs, and to comment on some of the audit questions.
How will this help improve cancer outcomes?
Hopefully it will give GPs a chance to consider the diagnostic pathways of their cancer patients, and to see if the process could be sped up to enable earlier diagnosis. The national information will allow us to see if there have been any changes since the last audit, and to see any regional variations in access to scans or referral pathways.