New Clinical Roles Help Transform Breast & Radiology Service

The creation of new advanced clinical roles for nursing and radiology staff has helped to transform the breast service at Forth Valley Royal Hospital, creating additional capacity and cutting waiting times.

Advanced Nurse Practitioners (ANPs) now run a range of breast clinics for patients referred with suspected breast cancer who are able to have their outpatient consultation, mammography and ultrasound scanning performed during the same visit along with a biopsy, if required. They also assist in theatre and perform surgical procedures in both breast and plastic surgery as well as nipple tattooing following breast reconstruction.

This has led to consistently short waiting times for the breast and surgical skin cancer service throughout the pandemic and has helped keep pace with rising demand.

In radiology, the advanced practitioners are able to read mammograms, perform diagnostic ultrasounds and take biopsy samples. The Consultant Radiographer is able to read breast MRIs and has helped train a team of advanced practitioners to create a more sustainable service.

Health Secretary Humza Yousaf visited NHS Forth Valley’s One-Stop Breast Clinic at Forth Valley Royal Hospital to meet local staff and patients and find out more about the new advanced clinical roles that have helped transform local breast and radiology services.

During the visit he also announced an additional £10 million to help improve cancer waiting times across Scotland. This will be shared among health boards, including NHS Forth Valley, to boost the number of operations available, create extra clinics, and upskill new staff to help patients get the care they need as quickly as possible.

Health Secretary Humza Yousaf, said: “Covid has not gone away and pressures remain, which is why we are providing health boards with a £10 million cash boost to drive down waiting times so that cancer patients can receive the best care as early as possible.”

Ms Juliette Murray, Deputy Medical Director for Acute Services and Consultant Breast Surgeon, NHS Forth Valley, said the investment in staff training and development had helped transform local services and ensure women were seen as quickly as possible.

She explained: “These new roles have helped us respond to a significant increase in referrals since the start of the pandemic and ensure patients are seen as quickly as possible.

“It has also helped to attract new staff and meant we have been able to offer outpatient appointments to patients in neighbouring NHS Board without impacting on services or waiting times for local patients in Forth Valley.”

Karen Forret (43), who met the Health Secretary during his visit to the Breast Clinic at Forth Valley Royal Hospital, said: “This is the second time I have attended the Breast Clinic in the last year and both times I was seen very quickly.

“The clinics are really well organised and the staff are lovely. I’d encourage anyone who is worried about a lump or change to see their doctor as soon as possible so that this can be checked out.”