The General Medical Council has made it clear that it is the duty of every doctor to work with colleagues in the ways that best serve patients’ interests and, subject to patient consent, to keep colleagues well informed when sharing the care of patients. The “Cancer Reform Strategy” (CRS) published in December 2007 (a copy of which has already been placed in the Library) recommended that commissioners and service providers should ensure they have robust local systems in place to enable patients to experience good continuity of care. Through the NHS IT modernisation programme the Department is introducing an electronic care records service that will allow all clinicians involved in a patient's care to have access to the key information that they need.
The National Cancer Survivorship Initiative will look at ways we can improve the ongoing support for people living with and beyond cancer, and test sites to pilot models of care will focus on all aspects of the care pathway, including assessment, care planning and immediate post treatment approaches to care.
In addition, the National Chemotherapy Advisory Group’s independent draft report “Chemotherapy Services in England: Ensuring quality and safety” reinforces the importance of continuity of care. It recommends summary records of chemotherapy treatment are copied to patients and their general practitioners on completion of the treatment and subsequent care plans drawn up and communicated to any relevant health care professionals involved in the management of the patients’ care. This report is still subject to consultation until 4 February 2009, and the final report is expected to be published in the spring 2009.