Head and Neck Audit

Data for Head and Neck Oncology (DAHNO)  provided vital information about the delivery of treatment for head and neck patients for many years. Though there were flaws and limitations in the completeness of its reports, it gave patients and carers valuable information in assessing the care that was provided.

Since the tenth DAHNO report covering 2014, I have found no audit information about head and neck cancer. HANA took over from DAHNO and collected a limited amount of data in its first year of operation. It was then handicapped by the withdrawal of financial support for its work. I am currently uncertain as to whether the audit is dead or alive.

The DAHNO group was a valuable forum. It had members from all the clinical groups involved in delivering care to head and neck patients, as well as patient, carer and voluntary sector members, such as NALC. The NICE Quality Standards for head and neck, published in 2017, relied upon the evidence that the audit would provide. For example one of the quality standards was about giving patients choice about surgery or other treatment options. Without the audit there is no way of getting information about what is actually happening to patients.


BBC2 Hospital Episode 2

On Tuesday April 3rd the second programme in the BBC series “Hospital” followed some head and neck cancer patients at QMC, Nottingham. It certainly provoked a mixture of emotions. The problems faced by the head and neck team because of shortages of specialist staff have alarming implications for patients. Targets are set for timely treatment with good reason given the prospect for less favourable outcomes if delays occur. On the other hand, one could not fail to be moved by the dedication  and work of staff to do the best they could in the challenging circumstances.

QMC has had an excellent reputation in head and neck,  with world-renowned clinicians such as Emeritus Professor Patrick Bradley, who was a former NALC patron, Some of our members receive their care at QMC and it continues to have a high reputation. Indeed the trust has extended some services to all of us regardless of some being “out of area”.

NHS staff such as the head and neck team at QMC are being let down. They are not able to deliver the service they want to provide, and  which they were able to do  a few years ago.