Advanced practice role helps improve cancer pathways for radiology patients

An advanced practice radiography role at Cwm Taf Morgannwg University Health Board has reduced waiting times and improved cancer pathways for radiology patients. The radiology cancer navigator role was introduced in August 2022 at the Princess of Wales Hospital, Bridgend, through funding by the Welsh Government via the Bevan Commission’s Planned Care Innovation Programme.

The Radiology Pathway Navigation project aimed to significantly reduce delays between diagnosis and treatment for cancer patients – leading to better outcomes and higher rates of survival. The navigator acts as a guide for patients, explaining radiology examinations and procedures, as well as combining several tests into one visit to the radiology department. The navigator also forms a crucial link between radiology and the clinical teams, as a point of contact at multidisciplinary team meetings.

As radiology cancer navigator Maund has been instrumental in driving the changes required for significant improvements in cancer pathways. Project lead Edwards-Brown has worked with Maund and radiology leads to advance and share the role, encouraging clinical teams to utilise the expertise it brings, as well as analysing its impact.

Initial steps involved changing the referral and authorisation process, allowing a reduction from five days to one day for urgent suspected cancer referrals. The project concentrated on lung and bowel cancer pathways, with significant improvements made, including a reduced waiting time for CT staging scans following a positive GP chest x-ray and a positive colonoscopy. Work will continue to introduce a new process of same-day staging scans.

There is further scope to expand the role throughout the health board and to potentially build a team of radiology navigators throughout Wales.

Picture: Advanced practice radiographer Louisa Edwards-Brown and radiology cancer navigator Sarah Maund are working together to advance the radiology cancer navigator role.

Published on the front page of the May 2023 issue of RAD Magazine.

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