Thousands to benefit from Enhanced Supportive Care programme

An innovative programme to improve the care and experience of patients with incurable cancer is being rolled out across the country.

The 'Enhanced Supportive Care' programme was developed by specialists at The Christie NHS Foundation Trust, and will now be used by at least 21 more cancer centres across England, supported by incentives from NHS England.

The initiative encourages care teams to address more fully the needs of cancer patients – in particular, preventing and managing the adverse physical and psychological effects of cancer and its treatment.

Rather than waiting until patients are in crisis, the programme will ensure that patients with incurable cancer have early access to specialist support where there are pain or symptom problems.

When it was trialled with patients at The Christie, emergency admissions among that group fell by more than a quarter, as patients benefited from early specialist supportive care to more effectively manage the symptoms caused by their cancer and the side effects of treatment.

In addition to the further spread of the programme, from next year pilot sites will develop the use of the Holistic Needs Assessment as a means of better joining up different phases of a patient's care, including ensuring timely access to palliative care.

Dr Richard Berman, who led the development of the programme at The Christie and is now NHS England's National Clinical Lead for Enhanced Supportive Care, said: “Enhanced Supportive Care is a fresh and modern approach to supporting people through cancer treatment – one that seeks to help patients in a very positive way, ensuring that they have timely access to the right expertise.

“I'm delighted to see colleagues in cancer centres across the country embrace this simple approach which has huge potential to improve the experience of patients, at what is often the most difficult time in their and their loved ones lives."

We hope this programme will lead to all centres rolling this out eventually.

It reflects are own goals of equal access to equal access, part of Our Strategy 2015-2020

Read the details of the programme here