A new fast diagnosis clinic for people with potential cancer has been established at Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Woolwich, which forms part of Lewisham and Greenwich NHS Foundation Trust. The clinic is now the third of its kind to be launched in south east London and aims to improve early diagnosis for people whose symptoms do not align to specific cancers.

The Rapid Diagnostic Clinic is being delivered by specialists at Queen Elizabeth Hospital, with the support of the South East London Cancer Alliance. The clinic aims to ensure that everyone with suspected cancer gets the rights tests at the right time, and in as few visits as possible.

GPs with concerns about patients who do no present red flag symptoms of cancer can now refer patients to the new clinic in Woolwich. Patients who are referred to the service often display symptoms such as fatigue, unexplained weight loss or back pain.

Geraint Jones, Rapid Diagnostic Service Lead at the South East London Cancer Alliance, said: “Up to half of cancer patients in the UK display symptoms that do not align to specific cancers. They are more likely to undergo numerous speciality referrals and face the possibility of being diagnosed at a later stage, when the cancer is harder to treat.

The launch of the new service means that more people living in south east London who present vague symptoms can be diagnosed at an earlier stage and receive timely and effective treatment.”

Working in partnership to provide south east London residents with equal access to faster cancer diagnosis

The first rapid diagnostic clinic was launched at Guy’s Hospital, Southwark in November 2016 with the support of the South East London Cancer Alliance.

In 2021, the cancer alliance invited other local health providers to host additional clinics, as part of NHS England’s Long Term Plan to diagnose cancers at an early stage. A diagnostic clinic at the Princess Royal University Hospital, in Orpington, was launched in April 2022 and to date has received over 200 referrals with 6 per cent being diagnosed with cancer.

By working alongside hospital teams, the South East London Cancer Alliance has been able to build and share expert knowledge of cancers that present vague symptoms across the region.

The latest clinic at Queen Elizabeth Hospital ensures that everyone living in the six boroughs in south east London (Bexley, Bromley, Greenwich, Lambeth, Lewisham and Southwark) now has equal access to faster cancer diagnosis and improved quality of care.

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