A recruitment drive is underway across Wales to create a network of specialist GP cancer leads as part of plans to bring earlier diagnoses and improve patient care.
There will be one GP lead for each of the seven health board regions and one for the Velindre Cancer Centre in Cardiff, alongside 11 GP ‘facilitators’, a national lead nurse and three regionally-based nurses.
GPs are being interviewed this month and until early March for the eight regional lead posts. Successful applicants will continue in their day jobs but will work one day a week as a regional GP cancer lead.
National GP cancer lead Dr Clifford Jones, a GP at a Valleys practice in South East Wales, was appointed last year to oversee the programme.
The GP leads will examine how all cancer services are provided, from initial GP consultations through to diagnosis and treatment, to see how procedures can be improved. They will also have a role in training other GPs and staff, and spreading good practice in their area.
The programme, which is part of a £3m project funded by Macmillan Cancer Support in partnership with NHS Wales, is aimed at improving care for patients in their own home, in the community and in hospital.
Dr Jones said: ‘For years the emphasis for cancer treatment has been on hospital-based clinicians who specialise in hi-tech procedures, but now there is an increasing focus on expanding the role of GPs and other community-based care in providing cancer care services. The programme is designed to help patients at every step of their journey – from helping GPs to secure an early cancer diagnosis, all the way through to supporting GPs to be able to provide the best care services once patients finish their acute treatment in hospital and return to their own communities.’
The programme will be up and running across Wales within eight months following the recruitment of the nurses later this year, although some regions will go live before then, said Macmillan programme manager Peter Gorin.
He added: ‘We have been delighted with the quality of applications and we are optimistic we can recruit a strong team of GP leads. This isn’t just a short-term fix – we want to embed good practice.’