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Plan established to reduce waiting list for suspected breast cancer referrals

Wednesday, 21 July 2021

A number of the patients waiting for an urgent consultation for suspected breast cancer are being given the choice by Manx Care of having their appointment and any initial treatment at a specialist hospital off-Island in order to reduce their waiting time to be seen.

The current waiting list for urgent referrals for suspected breast cancer on the Island exceeds the two-week wait standard. Securing the services of Spire Murrayfield Hospital on the Wirral will allow patients to receive faster access to treatment and reduce the overall waiting list, whilst an agreed solution is put in place to increase capacity for breast services at Noble's Hospital. 

Appointments for breast ‘one stop’ triple assessment at the Spire Murrayfield Hospital will begin next week. A number of people on the waiting list have been contacted by Manx Care this week and asked if they would like to transfer their appointment off-Island, which will result in them being seen quicker. Patients who are waiting for a confirmed appointment slot will also be contacted and offered the choice of having an appointment with Spire Murrayfield.

All patients referred to the Spire Murrayfield Hospital will see their full care pathway managed by Manx Care, with multi-disciplinary teams on the Wirral working closely together with the on-Island team. Their first appointment will mirror the ‘one stop’ triple assessment approach delivered on the Island. Any surgery and initial follow-up appointments will be performed at the Spire Murrayfield Hospital; any planned Medical Oncology (Chemotherapy treatment) will be delivered on the Isle of Man, whilst Clinical Oncology (Radiotherapy treatment) will continue to be delivered at the Clatterbridge Cancer Centre on the Wirral. Any additional care and local support will be provided by the Breast Care Team at Noble’s.   

This approach will help Manx Care ensure that all new referrals for suspected breast cancer will be seen within the 14-day standard by the end of September.

Manx Care remains fully committed to the delivery of high quality, sustainable breast services on-Island and has taken steps to ensure that – in future – there is sufficient capacity on-Island to meet the demand for the service. It has already approved funding for an additional, substantive Breast Radiologist (this is currently being advertised, with interviews scheduled for early September 2021) and an additional Breast Radiographer. Over the next few months, the service will also take the required action to recruit a full-time substantive Breast Surgeon.

Manx Care enjoys a strong working relationship with a number of charities in the Isle of Man including the Manx Breast Cancer Support Group. It's CEO, Teresa Cope, has been liaising closely with the charity’s Chair, Julie Stokes, on Manx Care's long-term plan to increase the capacity for delivering Breast services on-Island. Teresa commented:

'Manx Care has not been able to consistently achieve the two-week wait standard for urgent suspected breast cancer referrals and this is not acceptable. Using the services of the team at Spire Murrayfield Hospital will allow us to focus on reducing our current waiting list, whilst allowing us to establish a sustainable breast screening and treatment service that meets the needs of people living in the Isle of Man. Manx Care is committed to making this happen.'

Professor Partha Vaiude, Manx Care’s Clinical Director for Cancer Services, added:

'It’s important that we detect potential cancers at the earliest opportunity, and this additional capacity is vitally important whilst we make progress with recruiting to key clinical roles that will help us to establish a sustainable breast service for the Island. As part of the broader transformation programme being delivered across the Island's Cancer Services, the Breast service will be scrutinised in detail for both quality and sustainability. This process will commence in the next few weeks.'

Julie Stokes concluded:

'The Manx Breast Cancer Support Group is fully supportive of Manx Care’s plan to use the services of an off-Island hospital to reduce the waiting list for urgent breast referrals, particularly a hospital with the reputation of Spire Murrayfield. It’s vital that we do whatever we can to alleviate the waiting times for people on the list, particularly at such a distressing time for them. Faster access to treatment results in faster intervention and better outcomes, which is what we all want to achieve.'

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