NHS England support means more patients will receive enhanced supportive care

Enhanced Supportive Care is a new initiative aimed at addressing more fully the needs of cancer patients – in particular, preventing and managing the adverse physical and psychological effects of cancer and its treatment. In his second blog for NHS England, National Clinical Lead for the programme, Dr Richard Berman, welcomes the rollout of the programme.

Enhanced Supportive Care (ESC) is a fresh and modern approach to supporting people through cancer treatment.

At its heart is better access to expertise in managing the adverse effects of cancer and cancer treatments.

And that’s good for both patients and cancer clinicians. Because timely supportive care, provided in a positive way, improves patient experience and outcomes, as well as reducing the need for hospital admission.

A successful pilot at The Christie NHS Foundation Trust has led to NHS England’s commitment to support the roll out of ESC across cancer centres in England.

Now, thanks to NHS England making more than £4m of financial incentives available, I’m delighted that 21 more specialist cancer centres have signed up to start delivering ESC this year, with hopefully more to come.

As clinical lead, I am overseeing this integration of ESC into cancer care, ensuring that hospitals are supported to implement the guidance we have already published.

That means changes to the way palliative care and oncology teams work together in cancer centres.

So, over the last few weeks, I have been speaking with colleagues in oncology and palliative medicine from all around the UK.

How well has ESC been received?

Well as a simple initiative that makes sense and improves patient care, ESC has been warmly welcomed. In fact, there seems to be a real drive now to see the development of supportive care, working alongside oncology, to help provide world-leading cancer care.

It’s a fantastic opportunity: a new image, properly resourced supportive care teams, and improved care for patients.
Our ambition for supportive care doesn’t stop here – we will keep pushing for excellence and change.

This is just the first of three phases: ESC II will see the expansion of ESC across all cancer types, and following that, ESC III will see these improvements in practice and collaboration between professionals spread out beyond the walls of the cancer centre, meaning patients will increasingly be able to access enhanced support closer to home.

And of course ESC is just one way in which the NHS is rising to the challenges set in the report of the Independent Cancer Taskforce, which cited the impact it had at The Christie and recommended further support for people living with and beyond cancer.

A hearty thanks to all those who are leading the way on ESC in their own centres, and I look forward to continuing to work with clinical champions and others to improve patient experience.

Dr Richard Berman

Dr Richard Berman FRCP is NHS England’s National Clinical Lead for Enhanced Supportive Care, and a Consultant in Supportive & Palliative Care based at The Christie NHS Foundation Trust.