All patients referred by their GP with an urgent suspicion of cancer would previously be sent a hospital outpatient appointment for a fast track consultant clinic. A significant proportion of patients attending these appointments were found not to have cancer.
All urgent referrals for a suspicion of lung cancer are now reviewed by a respiratory consultant and directed either to a fast track outpatient clinic or to a virtual lung cancer clinic.
In the virtual clinic, two respiratory consultants review the referral information provided by the GP, together with the results of lung function tests and CT scan results, to decide whether the patients need to be referred to a fast track appointment, a routine respiratory clinic, another specialty or no further action. A letter is sent to the patient after the virtual clinic.
This new arrangement enables patients to get speedy reassurance of results, and makes better use of the fast track clinics with those patients attending that need to be there. The time from referral to the first face to face appointment is also improved.