11th January 2022
NHS Kirklees Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) is piloting a community-based lung health check programme to help catch cancer early.
The targeted scheme will focus on smokers and ex-smokers aged 55-74 who are registered with a GP in the North Kirklees area, in a bid to focus resources on those most at risk.
It is supported by the West Yorkshire and Harrogate Cancer Alliance and has been funded by NHS England as part of a national pilot designed to improve early diagnosis and treatment of cancer.
In total, 27 GP practices will work together with CURO Health, the North Kirklees GP federation, to offer people the opportunity to attend a lung health check appointment. There are around 19,000 people in Kirklees who are eligible for a health check.
Dr Khalid Naeem, GP at Mount Pleasant Medical Centre in Batley and chair of Kirklees CCG, said: “This is a great opportunity for those who are eligible in North Kirklees to be checked out at a convenient location in their local community.
“We are aiming to get as many people as possible to take up the offer of a lung health check.
“It’s a simple process and most people won’t need any further investigation. But the check could help us find around 150 cancers at an early stage, when the outcomes are much better.”
Jason Pawluk, programme director from West Yorkshire and Harrogate Cancer Alliance, who are supporting the campaign, added: “The earlier cancer is diagnosed, the greater the chance of it being treatable and curable.
“The message is clear – early diagnosis saves lives.”
Dr Naeem explained: “Lung cancer can often be caught too late as there are rarely symptoms at the earlier stages.
“The programme is designed to check those most at risk of developing lung cancer and spot any signs earlier, at the stage when it’s much more treatable. Ultimately saving more lives.
“As well as catching lung cancer early, the lung health check also provides an opportunity to offer support and guidance to any current smokers looking to quit.”
The lung health check takes place in two stages. Invitations are sent via text message and people will be asked to have a phone appointment with a specially trained health care professional who will undertake a cancer risk assessment.
They may then be offered a low dose CT scan to check that their lungs are in working order.
The CCG is working with Cobalt Health, a medical charity that provides mobile CT scanning. This means the CT scans will be available in easy to reach places like the car park at Tesco in Batley.
The scan is painless and takes just a couple of minutes. By making the process convenient and accessible, the CCG is hoping to encourage as many people as possible to take up the offer of a check.
Supporting the scheme in North Kirklees are Angela Oldroyd from Birstall, Edward Jennings from Dewsbury and Nadeem Raja, general manager of the Al-Hikmah centre in Batley.
Angela, 55, gave up smoking five years ago. She said: “Going for a lung health check is vital.”
The scheme will be extended to other GP practices across North Kirklees over 15 months and is part of a national targeted lung health check programme being rolled out across England in 43 locations.
Areas with the highest rates of lung cancer mortality are being prioritised.
Dr Naeem added: “We will start with GP surgeries in the Birstall and Batley before moving to the Spen, Dewsbury and Mirfield areas.”
Anyone showing symptoms including a persistent cough or change in your normal cough, coughing up blood, shortness of breath, unexplained tiredness or weight loss, an ache of pain when breathing or coughing or appetite loss should contact their GP.
The North Kirklees targeted lung health check programme is supported by West Yorkshire and Harrogate Cancer Alliance, a partnership of NHS organisations; local councils; charities; community and voluntary organisations and groups; patients and others affected by cancer.
Partners work together to tackle health inequalities; transform cancer care and services; reduce variations in outcomes; share best practice and pilot innovative approaches.
More information is available at www.lunghealthcheckaware.co.uk