Meet the Christie Hospital NHS Foundation Trust

The Christie Hospital serves an immediate population of 3.2 million in the Greater Manchester and Cheshire areas. The Christie hosts the largest radiotherapy unit in Europe with 700-800 patients receiving radical radiotherapy per year as part of their prostate cancer treatment. 

A team of eight Consultant Oncologists who specialise in patients with urological cancers are part of the team providing technically advanced radiotherapy treatments to patients with prostate cancer. They work across the Christie main site and our two satellite centres (Oldham and Salford) to deliver expert care. 

The big idea

A prostate specialist radiographer post has been introduced to ensure men undergoing radiotherapy treatment for prostate cancer receive a high level of care and support. The radiographer first scoped national practices on care pathways and used these to create an evidence based holistic care package for the management of side effects of patients undergoing radiotherapy. 

Finding out what works

In practice this now means that men are referred to a Radiographer led review clinic, where side-effects of treatment can be managed by offering advice and dealing with the patients holistically such as discussing sexual dysfunction. As well as the radiographer clinics, patients also have access to ad-hoc reviews as and when they require which is particularly important as side effects can appear suddenly and waiting for the next review clinic is not always suitable.

Much of the sessions are about educating the patients to prepare them for the likely side effects, allowing patients better control and understanding as well as the ability to self-manage side effects proactively rather than reactively.

Outcomes

All patients surveyed felt they had better access to care and support with the prostate specialist radiographer role. Both the patient experience and staff feedback survey rated the support good overall to excellent.

Some of the other improvements noted due to the introduction of the role include:

  • Improved work flow. Patients receive appointments for follow up in tighter timeframe
  • All patients receive accurate grading of their toxicities now. Before no grading was used.
  • All patients get a personalised summary at end of treatment so they understand what treatment they have and potential side effects to be aware of.
  • Sexual function is now routinely discussed in radiotherapy clinics

The national audit that was completed on current patterns of practice in prostate cancer radiotherapy treatment and reviews, is currently being prepared for publication, and should be a useful tool for other organisations looking to improve their own processes.

Next steps

The Christie NHS Foundation Trust are looking to continue the post as it is both cost effective and overall a more efficient use of resources. 

The Christie hope to publish and share their experiences with radiotherapy departments nationally, with the aim to streamline services nationally regarding information given to the patients, which could lead to future collaborative workings between centres.