Meeting the standard on cancer care - Bleepa

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Meeting the standard on cancer care

Nick Mayhew, Sales and Marketing Director, explores how Bleepa and CareLocker can help improve performance on faster diagnosis for cancer services.

The announcement by NHS England that the faster diagnosis standard for cancer had been reached for the first time was great news. The obvious next step is to improve performance on fast diagnosis even further and to meet the operational standards on waiting times. At Feedback Medical we have shown in other specialties that we can speed up both diagnosis and treatment. We are ready to help with cancer services and we would love to run a pilot of our Bleepa technology with a local trust.

Operational standards for cancer performance

The faster diagnosis standard sets a maximum 28-day wait for communication of a cancer diagnosis, or ruling out of cancer, for patients referred urgently for investigation of cancer.

The operational standard is that 75 per cent of patients are communicated within that time. In February 2024, the NHS achieved a level of 78 per cent, having been at a level of around 70 per cent over the last three years.

Waiting times for treatment have been more of a challenge. In February 2024, 91.1 per cent of patients were treated within 31 days, against an operational standard of 96 per cent; 63.9 per cent of urgent patients were treated within 62 days, against an operational standard of 85 per cent.

NHS England has separately announced that the number of NHS cancer referrals in one year has topped three million for the first time (March 2023 to February 2024) – another achievement to be celebrated.

Building on the NHS Long Term Plan

These standards aim to deliver the strategy set out in the 2019 Long Term Plan, which rightly focused on earlier diagnosis:

“This Long Term Plan sets a new ambition that, by 2028, the proportion of cancers diagnosed at stages 1 and 2 will rise from around half now to three-quarters of cancer patients. Achieving this will mean that, from 2028, 55,000 more people each year will survive their cancer for at least five years after diagnosis. We will build on work to raise greater awareness of symptoms of cancer, lower the threshold for referral by GPs, accelerate access to diagnosis and treatment and maximise the number of cancers that we identify through screening.”

The Health Select Committee has supported these ambitions:

“The single most effective way to improve overall survival rates would be to diagnose more cancers earlier. Diagnosing bowel cancer at stage 1 means that 90 per cent of people will live for five years compared to just 10 per cent of people diagnosed at stage 4. There is a similar story for other cancers such as breast cancer, where 98 per cent of people diagnosed at stage 1 will live for five years, compared to just 24 per cent at stage 4; and prostate cancer, where 100 per cent of people diagnosed at stage 1 will live for five years or more, compared to 40 per cent at stage 4. We therefore agree with the many witnesses who said that it is a key priority to achieve the NHS Long Term Plan target to diagnose 75 per cent of cancers at stage 1 or 2 by 2028.”

How Bleepa and CareLocker can help

Our work in other specialties is directly relevant to the achievement of the operational standards on cancer performance.

As with other specialties, multi-disciplinary communication is key to accurate and timely cancer treatment. We can enable, for example, junior radiologists or other clinicians to consult immediately with senior colleagues via a chat function. Or clinicians can invite other colleagues into an unscheduled multi-disciplinary team where all the clinicians have a common view of a patient’s details including medical imaging, historical notes, bloods, reports etc. This bi-directional chat enables clinicians to collaborate easily, expediating the care of their patient.

At the Northern Care Alliance, we used our technology to improve communication and decision making between respiratory clinicians. The result was a reduction in referral-to-response times of 87 per cent, greatly accelerating speed of diagnosis.

At the Queen Victoria Hospital in Sussex, we helped to deliver an end-to-end symptom-based breathlessness pathway through the CDC programme. As the APPG for Diagnostics recently reported, our pilot reduced patient waiting times by 69 per cent.

Also relevant is our new partnership with the radiology specialist Medical Imaging Partnership, which will pilot Bleepa and CareLocker for multiple clinical pathways in the private healthcare sector, including cancer. Our first project is expected to be a new direct-access service for prostate screening.


Cancer is rightly a priority for the government and ministers have followed a consistent strategy towards earlier diagnosis since 2019. Because of our relevant technology, we stand ready to help. Speaking earlier this year, the Secretary of State for Health, Victoria Atkins, said:

“We know that nearly six in 10 people are diagnosed at stages 1 and 2. That is really good news, because we know that the earlier we can catch it, the recovery outcomes are better both in terms of survival rates and quality of life afterwards. So that is a step forward. Of course, we want to improve that even further.”

For more information about how we can reduce patient wait times and support faster diagnosis of cancer, you can get in touch here.



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