Head and neck cancer clinic case study

Head and neck cancer: bringing care closer to home

In September 2018 , Thames Valley Cancer Alliance and our partners launched a head and neck cancer outpatient clinic at Great Western Hospital in Swindon.

The new weekly clinic provides follow up rehabilitation care closer to home for local patients and is helping to improve patient experience.

Before it opened, patients in Swindon and Wiltshire diagnosed with head and neck cancer at the Great Western Hospital were referred to Oxford University Hospitals for their treatment and rehabilitation care.

They can now receive their follow care closer to home at Great Western Hospital where the clinic is led by a consultant Head and Neck or Maxillofacial surgeon. Patients can also get support from a clinical nurse specialist, speech and language therapist, dietician as well as dentistry and psychology services.

With the average length of follow up care lasting five years for patients with head and neck cancer, the new clinic means much less time spent travelling to and from appointments – a huge benefit for local patients.

Nick Crowson-Towers, the project’s Patient Leader said: “The treatment of head and neck cancer can be devastating and to have to endure the distance and time to travel between Swindon and Oxford can be gruelling. One patient from Swindon needed 81 follow up appointments in one year. To avoid the trauma of extended, regular, costly travel to Oxford will be a tonic in itself, and the realisation that the standard of complex treatment will be to the same high standards, but locally, from a cohesive team of medical professionals will be so reassuring; with an open route to Oxford Churchill should it be necessary.  The head and neck cancer patients and carers will truly cherish this local breakthrough.”

Robert New attended his first Swindon clinic in October 2018.  Robert was pleased to be able to have his follow up appointments closer to home – a 10-minute journey away.  Robert said: “It’s all about the travel.  After my treatment I spent two weeks as an inpatient in Oxford and it was very difficult for my wife travelling over an hour one way.  Having my follow up treatment in Swindon is great. I just want to get home quickly.”

It is estimated the head and neck clinic will help an estimated 65 patients a year. It is run as a partnership between the Great Western Hospitals and Oxford University Hospitals teams and is also helping to release capacity at Oxford University Hospitals.

The Head and Neck ‘Care Closer to Home’ pilot is a result of a five-year initiative between Thames Valley Cancer Alliance, Macmillan Cancer Support, NHS England, head and neck cancer patients and local Integrated Care Boards and Trusts.