When Terry King, 44, developed persistent stomach symptoms, his GP referred him to the UHSussex colorectal faster diagnosis team, where he was diagnosed with colon cancer.
Terry said: “The whole process from being seen at my GP surgery and having tests to being referred and diagnosed has been so quick and I only have praise for the NHS.
“Within a week of my phone call with the hospital nurse, I was booked in for more tests. I was told it was a cancerous tumour during one of the tests. At every step, I was told what to expect and received loads of information to support me.
“Even after I met the consultant to talk through the diagnosis and treatment plan, the nurse rang me to talk through everything. I have never felt left behind or forgotten about. It really helped me stay positive, knowing that I’m being cared for so well.”
Terry, who coaches boxing in Brighton, is now committed to a fit and healthy lifestyle.
And, four months on, and following surgery to remove part of his colon, he is recovering well, and has recently become a grandad for the third time.
He added: “The nurses have all been amazing and even helped me with things like diet and finances. I’m so grateful that it was all dealt with quickly and the cancer was caught early. It means I can watch my baby granddaughter grow up and spend time with my family, who mean the world to me.
“And I have my son to thank for encouraging me to call my GP and get checked out. I would recommend anyone who feels that something isn’t right to get themselves seen as soon as possible.”
Kirsteen Daly is an Advanced Nurse Practitioner for the colorectal faster diagnosis team at UHSussex.
She said: “The faster diagnosis team and Macmillan cancer nurse specialists work together to support patients from referral, during diagnosis and throughout treatment, ensuring a streamlined patient experience.
“The faster diagnosis nurses use stool test results, which in most cases are sent from the patient’s GP, to determine whether cancer can be ruled out or more investigations are needed – the team review and assess more than 75% of patients who are referred to the Royal Sussex County Hospital.
“The colorectal Macmillan cancer nurse specialists provide patients with holistic support from when a cancer diagnosis is confirmed; this includes support during treatments, symptom management, dietary, financial and health and wellbeing advice.”
The Trust set up faster diagnosis colorectal clinics across its four hospital sites as part of a national drive to improve cancer wait times and patient experience, and address growing demand for the service, which since 2019 has seen a 25% increase in suspected colorectal cancer referrals.
Now, more than 200 patients across Sussex with suspected colorectal cancer are assessed in these clinics each week. Each clinic is led by a consultant and has a team of specialist nurses and pathway navigators.
The teams at UHSussex have worked closely with the Surrey and Sussex Cancer Alliance, who have helped shape the pathway and funded the pilot projects.
The Trust is now establishing a series of faster diagnosis clinics for a range of other cancer types.