Breast care clinicians at North Cumbria Integrated Care NHS Foundation Trust are working together to develop a plan to restart the one stop breast clinic at West Cumberland Hospital before the end of the year.
The Trust changed how a number of outpatient services were delivered at the start of the coronavirus pandemic in line with national guidance and is now looking at the best way to safely restart services with the current restrictions still in place.
Plans to restart the one stop clinic for some women with symptoms of cancer at WCH are being developed and are also factoring in recent changes in the small radiologist workforce.
Dr Rod Harpin, Interim Medical Director explains: “The Trust offers a range of breast care services for women across north and west Cumbria including breast surgery, breast screening and a clinic for women who are symptomatic and require investigation and diagnosis.
“Most breast surgery for women across north and west Cumbria takes place at West Cumberland Hospital and breast screening services for around 6000 women per year is provided at West Cumberland Hospital and this is continuing. This relates to the weekly ‘one stop’ clinic at West Cumberland Hospital for some symptomatic women referred by their GP which sees around 6 women a week.”
Dr Harpin added: “This particular clinic had been provided with a single experienced radiologist without onsite support from colleagues where a second opinion or discussion about a case is required. With the reduced radiology hours available to us, it has been more difficult to restart this clinic, however we are preparing to do so with the aim of restarting in two months time.”
“There is a positive future for the clinic in the long term as new radiologists with an interest in breast care are due to arrive later this year, however they will need to undertake a period of training with colleagues in Carlisle. Following that we would like to hold a larger clinic at West Cumberland Hospital with two radiologists working at any one time which would enable us to provide a resilient and high quality service.”
Dr Harpin added: “I do appreciate that in the immediate term this will mean longer travel times for some women for some treatments, however I have to prioritise a safe effective service for women who need it now.
“Our services at West Cumberland Hospital for women undergoing breast surgery are second to none and it’s our ambition to provide a bigger and better one stop treatment service in the future.”
Dr Rod Harpin is attending a special virtual meeting of the West Cumbria Community Forum next week Friday 4th September from 2pm to 4pm to explain the position and to seek feedback from members of the wider community. The meeting will be chaired by Archdeacon Richard Pratt.
Members of the public can attend this virtual meeting or submit questions about the one stop clinic for Dr Harpin and his colleagues to answer by contacting Healthwatch Cumbria.