An innovative nurse and consultant-led clinic has helped nearly 350 patients to get a faster diagnosis with cancer and other serious conditions since it opened a year ago.
The rapid access diagnostic clinic at Guy’s Hospital in London provides quick access to a range of tests for patients over the age of 40, whose symptoms are non-specific but concerning.
“This service avoids delays in diagnosing patients when their symptoms are less specific”
Geraint Jones, an advanced nurse practitioner at Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust, runs the clinic with Dr Luigi DeMichele, consultant in internal medicine.
Since its launch in December 2016, the clinic has received more than 400 referrals from local GPs, with 31 resulting in a cancer diagnosis.
It has also helped to diagnose around 300 patients with a wide range of other conditions including liver cirrhosis, Crohn’s disease, multiple sclerosis, tuberculosis, heart failure and emphysema.
The clinic, which is based on a scheme developed in Denmark, has been trialed across Lambeth and Southwark.
As a result of its success, in April the trust said it will expand the clinic to offer services to patients under the care of GPs in Greenwich, Lewisham, Bexley and Bromley.
Mr Jones: “This clinic makes things easier for GPs and quicker for patients. It is normally clear when a patient has certain symptoms where their GP should refer them to but things are not always that simple.
“This service avoids delays in diagnosing patients when their symptoms are less specific so that a treatment plan can be put in place for them,” he said.
“We can refer the patient to the relevant specialist unit for treatment or reassure them”
He added: “We see patients within seven days of referral from the GP and the 45-minute consultation involves myself and Dr DeMichele. Together we are able to provide medical and nursing expertise.
“Many of the cancers discovered in the clinic have been diagnosed at an early stage which means patients have a greater chance of recovery,” said Mr Jones.
“Once our investigations are complete we can refer the patient to the relevant specialist unit for treatment or reassure them that nothing serious is going on,” he said.
A survey found 91% of patients either “agreed” or “strongly agreed” that the clinic had helped them. In addition, 96% of patients referred to the clinic rated the assessment of their conditions as either “good” or “very good”.