Standardised cancer referral form

Transforming Cancer Services Team with London Cancer Alliance

The problem

A new set of cancer two week wait forms were released in North East London in April 2014 and then quickly withdrawn as they were found to be not suitable. This prompted us to look at the problem and devise new forms to better support referrals initially in North East London. The success of the new forms led to them being trialled and rolled out across wider geographical areas.

The Bright Idea

A tested, validated and standardised referral form was implemented to improve suspected cancer referrals. This was implemented in North East London in 2014. Due to the success of the new forms, the format was selected to be used to implement a new complete set of Fast Track Suspected Cancer referral forms throughout London in 2016. The format has also been taken up by a number of CCGs and is being used to implement the new Multidisciplinary Diagnostic Centre referral form.

Implementing the forms throughout London had special problems because of the large number of potential hospitals involved. Hospital contact details on the forms would quickly become outdated. The pan-London forms had to implement a different way of allowing GPs to select which hospital to refer patients to. This also coincided with the withdrawal of faxing of forms and a move to electronic/ email referrals. To overcome this, a database was constructed of London hospitals which took suspected cancer referrals and software was written to make this easily convertible into web pages which could be accessed by GPs from a link on the forms. This was a major change in itself as the web pages and database had to be easily updated by administrative staff (to keep up with hospital contact detail changes) and then hosted by available NHS servers.

The impact

Patients

Since the forms went live in May 2016 the number of patients referred using the new process has been more than 154,000 in the London region.

Workforce

A key feature of the forms is the removal of hospital contact details from the forms and onto web pages which are accessed by on-form hyperlinks. This ensures that hospital contact details are easily available and most importantly, always up to date ensuring staff always have the right contact details available.

Practice

The forms are "good-to-go" without requiring tweaking by each practice as they are available in formats compatible with each of the major GP computer systems of choice.

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