Integration of the independent sector and the National Health Service in breast radiology: a working example
© BioMed Central Ltd 2008
Published: 7 July 2008
The UK National Breast Screening Programme in Exeter has been exclusively run by the National Health Service (NHS) since it started in the early 1990s. The current medical climate is rapidly undergoing change, with increasing utilisation of outsourcing to independent providers. Certain domains, such as orthopaedics, have a high usage of independent providers; however in other domains, including breast radiology, the use is sparse.
Since 2005 the breast screening unit in Exeter has been privatised to Lister-in-Health on a separate site, whilst the symptomatic and surgical service has remained at the local hospital under the NHS. We would like to discuss how there is continuity in the care pathway for the screening patient, detailing how Lister Healthcare interacts with the local hospital breast service; how patient assessments and access to breast care nurses is carried out, and the point at which a patient leaves the screening service to enter the NHS treatment pathway. We also discuss the logistics of communication between the screening radiologists and surgeons, including discussion of histological findings, follow-up of nonsurgical lesions, assessment of B3 lesions, multidisciplinary teams and meetings.