Co-Production Approach For GP Patient Referral Tool For Suspected Prostate Cancer

Prostate referral tool discussion.jpgA tool to support better conversations between primary care and patients with a suspected prostate cancer referral by helping them to understand what happens next, along with how to access further information and support, has been co-produced by patients, the charity Prostate Cancer UK and West Yorkshire and Harrogate Cancer Alliance.

prostate cancer uk logo.pngLocal primary and secondary clinicians, patients and their families, together with representatives from the charity and West Yorkshire and Harrogate Cancer Alliance, joined a co-production workshop to develop the new resource to be given to men at the point of a fast-track referral for suspected prostate cancer.

Over 49,000 men in England were diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2018, making it the most commonly diagnosed cancer. Being referred to hospital for suspected prostate cancer is a worrying time for many patients, prompting questions about why they have been referred and what the next steps will be. 

West Yorkshire and Harrogate Cancer Alliance identified that patients felt they were not receiving enough information or support at this point. A variation in the availability of information is also reflected nationally. Prostate Cancer UK therefore collaborated with the Cancer Alliance to pursue a standardised approach, in line with the Best Practice Pathway.

Prostate referral tool.jpg

The workshop was facilitated to include time for participants to:

  • Connect as a co-production group through a communication exercise
  • Understand and scope the problem
  • Explore what information already exists, evidence of what works/what doesn’t
  • Discuss who needs this information and potential content of the referral tool
  • Have the opportunity to begin work on designing the tool in small groups

The co-production approach has enabled the tool to incorporate the following:

  • Clear language and images
  • Editable fields supporting digital use and personalisation
  • Black and white design for easy printing in GP practices 
  • Different stages of the prostate cancer diagnostic pathway  
  • Links to further information and support from Prostate Cancer UK

The referral tool document can be accessed here

Dissemination of the tool

Two local GPs in the West Yorkshire and Harrogate area were asked to pilot the tool through their practices. However, the Covid-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on the number of men approaching their GP over the past year. Data shows that since March 2020, urgent referrals by GPs in England have dropped by over 55,000 (as at June 2021).

Prostate cancer referral tool screenshot.jpgIt was therefore considered more appropriate to collate more general feedback from primary care and patients using the tool. The tool has been extremely well received but will continue to be developed and improved in response to feedback. It was recently launched across West Yorkshire and Harrogate, and has now been rolled out for national use through Prostate Cancer  UK's primary care networks and contacts.

Next steps

With a sharp increase reported in urology fast-track referrals over recent weeks, the tool will continue to be promoted as a way to support GPs and patients. Next steps will include sharing the tool at primary care events and integrating the tool into primary care IT systems.