A new specialist breast pain clinic which sees patients within two weeks of a referral will benefit hundreds of people across Lincolnshire.
The new NHS Lincolnshire Specialist Breast Pain Clinic started seeing its first patients in late March at the North Hykeham Health Centre and Boston Health Clinic.
It offers services from hospitals in a primary care community setting, which are modelled and delivered by United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust (ULHT) and Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) colleagues.
All GPs in Lincolnshire are able to refer patients who are suffering with breast pain into the specialist clinics.
Under the new pathway, patients will receive treatment and advice from their GP prior to being referred to the community-based breast pain clinic. The clinic will offer a full family history assessment, breast examination and expert advice.
This collaboration between hospital consultants and GPs means that patients can be seen quickly for their symptoms. As well as improved outcomes for patients, these changes will help to reduce two-week wait cancer referrals by 15% to 20% which will also relieve significant pressure in cancer services.
Lynne Chapman, the very first patient seen on the pathway, said: “The clinic has made a huge difference to my life. All of the staff made me feel comfortable and I was put at ease immediately. The service is highly personalised and as a specialist clinic everyone there knew what I was going through.
“I was able to spend time with the team and they had time to understand my issues clearly and comprehensively. Suffering with breast pain is very worrying and as an intimate area you have the worry of it being something more serious, alongside concerns around your body.
“The clinic being separate from a cancer diagnosis pathway meant my mind was put totally at rest. I was given advice to manage my condition and also encouraged to attend my mammogram. I have been recommending the clinic to everyone as it was such a great environment, a rapid service and I really felt listened to.”
Breast pain is a common issue and as a standalone symptom is rarely indicative of any cancer. However, up until the launch of the clinic, all people who were suffering from breast pain had to be seen on a two week wait cancer pathway.
Due to the nature of this pathway this has meant that a patient could have undergone unnecessary tests and also suffered increased stress and worry about a potential cancer diagnosis.
Dr Amtul Sami, Breast Surgeon at ULHT, said: “Any changes in the breast, including pain can be really worrying, but breast pain alone is rarely a symptom of cancer.
“By setting up breast pain clinics in the community we are able to put our patients at ease and offer them help and advice whilst checking family history and conducting breast examinations. In this specialist environment we deliver the right service to the people of Lincolnshire, who may have been suffering in silence.”
Chris Chantry, Deputy General Manager in the Family Health Division at ULHT, added: “If, as we expect, these clinics prove successful they may be expanded to other areas and the Trust may also look at what other pathways and services could work well in this new approach.”