Firm friend ‘FReD’ helping to cut lung cancer waits for patients in Lincolnshire

People with suspected lung cancer are being seen quicker and receiving treatment much faster, thanks to a streamlined way of working across Lincolnshire’s hospitals

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A new project was piloted towards the end of 2019 and has now been rolled out at Lincoln County Hospital and Pilgrim Hospital in Boston.

As part of the service, patients now receive the results of their chest X-rays faster than ever before – within 24-hours – with a referral for a CT scan also coming within 48 hours if necessary.

Previously, patients referred for chest X-rays from their GPs, had to wait two to three weeks for their results or to be referred for further tests.

Now with the addition of the Faster Respiratory Diagnostic test referral (FReD), waiting times have improved even further, helping to speed up and cut down treatment time for lung cancer.

The service has been designed in line with the National Optimal Lung Cancer Pathway (NOLCP) and United Lincolnshire Hospital NHS Trust’s (ULHT) cancer improvement manager Chris Mills, said FReD is proving an invaluable part of the team.

“FReD helps us to get early diagnosis so we have as much time as possible to treat our patients. Results from all our chest X-rays can now be received within about 24 hours,” said Chris.

“Previously it would have taken between two to three weeks. Now within about three days from a patient being referred to us from their GP, our teams will be able to tell if further testing is required and get them access to the specialists they need as fast as possible.

“If cancer is suspected then additional tests and an outpatient appointment will be booked – saving weeks of waiting to get treatment.

“All of this has continued during the COVID-19 pandemic and would not have been possible without the dedication and hard work of everyone in the radiology teams. Particularly the admin staff – who often go unrecognised but are crucial in making sure our patients get seen and treated on time.”

ULHT’s Radiology Operational Manager, Paul Clark said: “This work is the culmination of multiagency cooperation from radiology, respiratory medicine and Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) colleagues.

“It will benefit so many patients in Lincolnshire, allowing rapid diagnosis of lung cancer. It’s amazing to see ULHT leading the way for our region.

“I am incredibly proud of all the teams for developing this service. When we first imagined this cancer treatment pathway we could not envisage being able to make such a substantial change so quickly.

“It really shows the importance and capability of radiographers in advancing roles alongside our medical colleagues.”