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Quicker and easier radiotherapy treatment for patients

5th Sep 2018

A Bevan Exemplar project embeds radiographers within the palliative care function

A Bevan Exemplar project, trialled at Velindre Cancer Centre in Cardiff, has made it quicker and easier for cancer patients to access radiotherapy treatment. The initiative, which was trialled at Velindre Cancer Centre at Cardiff, has significantly improved the quality of life for patients by embedding radiographers within the palliative care function, relieving outpatient doctors and ensuring patients can access radiotherapy treatment more rapidly.

Specialist expertise required

Steve Hill, a planning radiographer at the Velindre Cancer Centre in Cardiff, was aware that palliative patients were sometimes experiencing delayed radiotherapy treatment, even when their treatment fell within ‘acceptable’ targets. Patients who do not receive timely radiotherapy treatment can experience severe pain and may develop treatment anxiety as a result. It was found that treatment delays were often due to staffing issues and complex cases which required specialist expertise.

As many poor patient experiences are preventable Steve Hill developed an initiative to improve the pathway of radiotherapy care for cancer patients by embedding radiographers within palliative care services. This initiative, which was supported by the Bevan Commission and an internal service improvement grant of £10,000, supports the provision of emergency radiotherapy and rapid access to treatment for palliative patients.

Training and scale-up

Junior doctors have also benefitted from being trained by radiographers embedded within the planning service, enabling them to develop new specialisms in radiotherapy and therefore treat more end-of-life patients. 

It is now hoped that this innovative approach can be scaled up to provide radiographer-led consultations and prescriptions in services and departments across Wales.

Steve Hill, Planning Radiographer at Velindre Cancer Centre, explains: “The Bevan Commission has been brilliant in enabling us to think about the problem in a different way and developing different expertise as a result. Meeting fellow Bevan Exemplars from a variety of clinical pathways opened up new further perspectives. The Bevan Exemplar scheme was invaluable in allowing us to collect data that demonstrated real improvements in terms of patient experiences, which we could use to secure Management and Board support.”

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