Over 360,000 people are diagnosed with cancer in the UK every year. In order to measure the extent to which these patients are seen and treated within clinically appropriate timescales, there exist a number of constitutional standards. One of the most important of these is the 62-Day standard. This standard states that 85% of patients should receive their first definitive treatment for cancer within 62 days of their initial referral. However, due to increasing patient demand, the 62 Day standard has not been achieved nationally for a number of years and remains a challenging prospect for all regions.
With NHS England recognising the importance of improving 62 Day performance to improve patient prognosis, in September 2018 an additional £10m of funding was made available to regions across the country to improve performance on the 62 day pathway. It was intended that the additional funding would be used to increase capacity and thus ensure that patients are seen and treated earlier and faster.
The North of England Commissioning Support Unit (NECS) were commissioned to support this programme, by providing PMO, and Assurance and Analysis. However, the key role of NECS within this programme was to provide the client with the capability to assess to what extent the additional funding impacted 62 Day performance and effectively demonstrate what impact the additional funding had on patient waiting and diagnosis times.
NECS were keen to involve the client and exercise a collaborative approach. NECS created an environment where the client’s expert knowledge and experience was not only valued, but was used to augment our skills and capabilities. This integrated approach was successful due to the establishment of effective communication channels and governance structures, as well as defining clear roles and responsibilities based on the skills and expertise of project team members.
The NECS approach was based around the principles of co-delivery, development and facilitation and challenge as a critical friend. Hence creating the right culture and being flexible to support and delivery of the programme.
NECS provided a professional and best in class service that delivered the desired results and surpassed the expectations of the clients. As expected the additional £10m funding improved 62 day performance. However, the true value of NECS’ contribution to the programme is found in our proven ability to provide the client with new capabilities. Most significantly NECS Consultancy provided National Cancer Directors with the opportunity to evaluate the impact of additional funding at a patient level.