Urgent care: Philippa Jones, Macmillan Network Lead Chemotherapy Nurse, on the development of acute oncology services.
Many people with cancer will need urgent clinical support because of their treatment or the disease itself. Acute oncology services play a crucial role in supporting these people by providing specialist care.
Acute oncology services were established in the UK following a 2008 NCEPOD report1 that highlighted the process of care of patients who died within 30 days of receiving systemic anti-cancer therapy. It identified remediable factors in the clinical and organisational care of these patients. Many people were getting the wrong advice and not seeing the right type of healthcare professionals, which was contributing to poor outcomes.
In 2009, the National Cancer Action Team proposed that all trusts and cancer networks should establish an acute oncology service to better manage these patients. New roles were established, such as the acute oncology nurse, who would be responsible for embedding acute oncology into services and spreading the word. The remit of these roles and teams varies between trusts, and services have developed differently.
A subsequent 2012 report, Cancer patients in crisis,2 identified the difficulties for health professionals who need to treat people with cancer promptly and effectively, but may not be familiar with cancer management. It provides tools and suggestions for better treatment in community and general practice settings as well as in hospital acute care.
This issue of Mac Voice features coverage of a range of acute oncology service developments by Macmillan professionals.
2. Royal College of Physicians and Royal College of Radiologists. Cancer patients in crisis: responding to urgent needs. Reports of a working party. 2012.