Laura Smart is the cancer care coordinator for urology and here she explains a bit more about her role.
My role is about coordinating the patient journey for anyone referred into hospital with a suspected urological cancer. This means making sure they are investigated, diagnosed and treated as quickly as possible.
This group of urological cancers can include prostate, bladder, kidney, penile and testicular. I really enjoy helping people and making sure that a patient’s cancer diagnosis journey is seamless and as informative as possible. It’s a daunting and worrying time for patients and their families so if I, and the amazing team I work with, can help make it a little bit easier, then we have done our job well.
The cancer care coordinator role is new to the trust and I’ve been appointed to the second post so far. Before taking up the role in November 2019 I was a medical secretary for 18 years, the last five of those years actually working in urology as a secretary for the prostate cancer team. This experience really peaked my interest the urological cancers, their investigations and the treatments.
The biggest challenge is making sure we see people as quickly as possible as set out in the national standards. Currently for the majority of our urological cancers we have 62 days to diagnose and treat the patient, however, new faster diagnosis and treatment times (of 28 days) will come on stream this year.
To try and make the journey that little bit less confusing for the patients I helped design a new appointment card for our department. These are given to new patients and explain all of their upcoming investigations and where each appointment is being held.
We want to bring everything together into one document so the patient leaves with all the information about appointments whether this is within the hospital, at another trust or even at their GP Surgery.
We trialled this with patients undergoing investigations for prostate cancer and because it has been so successful I hope we can role this out for all of our urological cancers.
COVID-19 has ultimately changed how we move patients through their journey, moving to telephone consultations for their first appointments, where possible, has actually been a positive move and means that patients are seen much more quickly. It’s also usually more convenient for the patient. We also opened a fantastic new unit only 2 weeks into the first lockdown, meaning we could continue our cancer investigations throughout the pandemic.
COVID-19 has forced us to look at how we work and made us improve our service. It’s been a tough year for everyone but I think the one thing I will remember about this time is that we all worked together and we’re thankful we could still provide excellent care for our patients.