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National Radiotherapy Conference 2016

National Radiotherapy Conference 2016

Tuesday 9 February 2016

The 2016 National Radiotherapy Conference was hosted by the Radiotherapy Board on the 5th February and it represented a unique opportunity for the radiotherapy profession to learn about the latest trends in the field, network with fellow members and gain insights from NHS leaders.

The event was chaired by Professor Andy Beavis, Chair of the Radiotherapy Board & Head of Radiation Physics, Hull and East Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust and supported by NHS Supply Chain with some of the country’s leading experts in their field, such as:  Cally Palmer CBE, National Cancer Director, NHS England, and Chief Executive of the Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust; Adrian Crellin, Chair of the NHS England Radiotherapy Clinical Reference Group; Dr Diana Tait, Chair of Radiotherapy Awareness Board and a Consultant Clinical Oncologist at the Royal Marsden Hospital; and Tim Cooper, Head of Hospital Inspections, Care Quality Commission (CQC).

In his opening remarks, Professor Beavis said: “This is a unique event that has brought together over 280 clinical leaders working to deliver radiotherapy services representing every cancer centre in the UK.  I would like to thank NHS Supply Chain for supporting this important event.  Without the Capital Solutions team, we wouldn’t be able to hold this event, with NHS delegates able to attend free of charge in order to understand how to deliver the future strategy of radiotherapy services.”

He added : “We as community need to engage with the Capital Solutions Team to see how they can support with the procurement and financial planning of equipment and how to fully utilise the Department of Health’s Capital Equipment fund”.

The conference’s plenary sessions focused on a number of key issues for the radiotherapy community and in particular on the delivery of the government’s cancer strategy over the next five years.

Cally Palmer provided some context to her appointment to lead the implementation of the NHS Cancer Taskforce’s Five Year Strategy for cancer care improvement. She discussed the next steps necessary to achieve the Cancer Taskforce’s vision and how to achieve world class cancer outcomes with a focus on improving the quality of life for patients.  She highlighted the need to replace and upgrade radiotherapy machines and stated that a plan was being developed to have a coordinated national approach with funding sources by the end of March.

Dr Adrian Crellin posed the question as to whether world class radiotherapy was a reality in England and discussed some of the challenges given that the burden of cancer was going up, the population was getting older and that there was a need to improve patient’s quality of life and their survival rates.  When discussing access to Linacs, he commented that the UK was not in the best of starting places when compared to other European countries and that there was a need to get these high quality machines in the most efficient way.  He highlighted that there was a need to realign the financial drivers and modernise the funding mechanisms.  He concluded that world class radiotherapy wasn’t a reality in England without investment in equipment and staffing combined with the reconfiguration of services.

Dr Diana Tait discussed how best to ensure the promotion and awareness of advanced radiotherapy treatments amongst patients and the medical community.   Her vision was to have empowered patients actively asking questions about whether radiotherapy “should be part of my treatment”.  She believes that this is an exciting time for radiotherapy due to the technical advances coming along.  She also made the point that radiotherapy couldn’t be delivered without the necessary equipment.  She concluded that agendas could be helped by public awareness.

Tim Cooper discussed the CQC’s inspection programme and their focus on continuous improvement.  The CQC was on the side of the patient and ensuring that they got a good deal.  He highlighted that they had inspected their first cancer centre last year at East and North Hertfordshire Trust and that the report was due in February 2016.  The next two cancer centres being inspected were the Royal Marsden and the Christie and Clatterbridge.  He explained that 20 weeks’ notice was provided for routine inspections.

Commenting on the event, Angela Dunigan, Stakeholder Relations, NHS Supply Chain said: “We were delighted to be continuing our association with the Radiotherapy Board to help spread new ideas, best practice and insights on developments in this sector.  This event attracts a great range of participants and it is one of the highlights of the radiotherapy year comprising both updates from leaders in the field and networking opportunities.”

She added: “We were proud to have such a great line up of contributors to this year’s conference and we hope that the participants found it useful and stimulating.  By offering real time online polls, question and answer sessions and an app which allowed easy access to additional event information we were able to make the event interactive and received feedback from the participants which helped shape the event.”

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