The colorectal services at The Royal Bournemouth Hospital needed to adapt to meet the extra demand on fast-track patient referrals to the outpatient department, as a consequence of the changes in the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) guidance on cancer referrals in June 2015. Learning from other units, a telephone assessment clinic (TAC) triaging patients straight to colonoscopy was trialled. A Plan–Do–Study–Act (PDSA) methodology was used. A baseline study showed that fast-track colorectal patients referred from their general practitioner (GP) were taking on average 30 days until they received their colonoscopy.
This quality improvement project focused on sending fast-track colorectal GP referrals through a straight-to-colonoscopy TAC. The results of this intervention showed an improvement from GP referral to colonoscopy. Both PDSA cycle 1 and PDSA cycle 2 showed an average of 24 days. This reduction of 6 days was a promising improvement in a 62-day patient pathway, so funds were accessed to invest in a temporary full-time TAC nurse appointment to allow more data to be collected. PDSA cycle 3 showed a reduction of the average from referral to colonoscopy to 19 days and a reduction in the variation. This outcome will be sustainable, as the TAC role is now a permanent position.
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