Dorset GPs met the Oncology teams at Dorset County Hospital in Dorchester one evening last week for an unusual event aimed at improving communication between primary and secondary care. The speed networking session followed a full afternoon programme entitled ‘Confident referral, discussions, early diagnosis and ongoing management’. This was the first of a planned series of education events by the Interprofessional Cancer Education Hub.
Richard Osborne, Consultant in Medical Oncology, welcomed the GPs for the evening networking session. Paul Barker, Macmillan GP, gave a presentation illustrating the types of letters that have traditionally been exchanged by clinicians in primary and secondary care. They were chosen to provoke discussion and were to some extent tongue in cheek but several proved, to the layperson such as myself, cryptic to say the least. Patients had, he said, until now been most often left out of the exchange of written communication altogether. In future however the new Treatment Summary template, which is being rolled out as part of the Recovery Package, and which is designed to be completed by the hospital team and seen by the patient and their GP, will ensure that all have access to the same comprehensive, comprehensible and timely information.
As one of two providers of relatively new Macmillan funded services in Dorset we were invited to give a speedy overview of our service to the GPs and hospital team present. Jen Rimmer and Kathleen Gillett of Dorset Macmillan Advocacy described the benefits of independent advocacy support by peer volunteers for older people and carers. Macmillan GP Dr Lavina Clarke said how she had been glad to be able to refer an older person whom she knew to be isolated as soon as she instigated tests and before diagnosis. Dr Jo Cotton, of Bridport then spoke about The Living Tree Cancer Support Group’s new Stepping Out programme aimed at promoting physical activity for people living with and beyond cancer.
Then the GPs met with Consultants and Nurse Specialists from Colorectal, Urology, Head and Neck, Gastroenterology, Dermatology, Breast and Cancer of unknown Primary teams for speed networking sessions in order to explore effective referrals and optimising two way communication.
Kathleen Gillett, Dorset Macmillan Advocacy