Straight-to-test telephone assessments helping improve the patient experience

Waiting for tests and results can be a worrying and anxious time for patients. So our Colorectal telephone Assessment Clinics (TACs) are helping reduce the time to diagnosis, and in some cases surgery for patients.

The TACs, which were introduced last October, are for patients where their GP has identified they require a fast track referral for GI symptoms, and who they feel need investigating for suspected colorectal cancer.

The telephone consultation is carried out by a team of experienced Colorectal Practitioners made up of three Physician associates, Colorectal Specialist Nurses and an Advanced Clinical Practitioner.

Lead Colorectal Nurse Paula Pickersgill, said: “Although there is a two week waiting time for a referral under NHS guidelines, we’re aiming to speaking to patients directly before this time. In fact I’ve taken a clinic earlier this week where the patients were only referred last week.

“And of course the advantage is that we have a greater chance of impacting the outcomes for patients.

“We had one case recently where a patient has his TAC on New Year’s Eve. It turned out he needed surgery to remove half his colon – but because of the quick work of the MDT team and the surgeon, his operation took place just three weeks later.”

The patient fed back to the team: “The treatment and professionalism from the moment I was referred has been fantastic. I had excellent care on the ward and I’m recovering well at home”

Some patients do have more complicated colorectal pathways, but by introducing the new TAC “straight to test” via TAC we aim to continue to improve the patient Pathway but ultimately the patient experience.

This new service will also be audited to see if improvements have been made.

If you've got a great patient story to share contact Jacqui Booth in comms on HRI 5256 or email