TELLING my story isn’t always easy. Last Friday I gave an blow-by-blow account of life in the shadow of cancer. Describing the gritty details of learning I had a brain tumour ten years ago, developing epilepsy, leaving hospital practice and suffering deep emotional lows doesn’t exactly fill you with the joys of spring. 
Yet sharing my journey to a near-complete stranger in my living room was a necessary evil. From my blackest times might come something that has a brighter purpose, because the woman who furiously scribbled down my words was on a mission to improve the lives of those who are to face a similar cancer battle.
Emma, my interviewer, works for All.Can. (Not a great name, I know.) It was set up to reduce waste and streamline cancer care in the UK and, eventually, across all of Europe. It sounds like a bureaucratic goal but all cancer patients and anyone who has had a ‘cancer scare’ will know that little things can make a big difference. 
In the UK today, getting results, attending treatments, getting hold of decent information and finding support can sometimes be painfully drawn-out. Making just some of these things easier will ease stress and save unnecessary expense.
Let me give you an example from my own experiences. Why must I take a half-day off work every six months to traipse over to Bristol so that I can lie in a scanner for 40 minutes, only to be sent home and told to wait at least two weeks for the results? Come ‘results day’, my wife and I need to take another half-day off work so that we can drive into the city, fight for a parking space, and get worked up waiting anxiously for a consultant appointment.
The stressful delay we long-term cancer patients must endure is simply because our images are sitting in a radiology doctor’s ‘non-urgent’ pile of work. Analysing an MRI, CT, X-ray, or ultrasound scan usually takes a radiologist no more than 15 minutes – but it only gets seen when they carve a few moments out of their hectic schedules to look at it.
As I bared my soul to Emma, I said that Surely it is not beyond the wit of the NHS powers-that-be to get everyone singing from the same hymn sheet? The radiographers, nursing staff, radiologists and cancer doctors could all be timetabled to spend specific days working just with cancer patients. A radiologist could look at scan images as soon as the patient has clambered out of the MRI or CT machine and the results passed on to the oncologist (cancer doctor) without delay. 
Within an hour the patient could be sitting down with the consultant to chat about what the results showed. The whole gig could be done and dusted within a couple of hours. This would mean no need for: two visits to the hospital, two days off work, two stressful hunts for a parking space, two lots of reception staff, and two sets of appointments to book. Importantly, there would also be no more stewing on what might – or might not – be for two weeks. It’s a win-win solution that saves time, money, and stress, which is especially important at a time when the NHS’s precious resources are being stretched to near breaking point.
This is just one example of sensible thinking to for an often overly-complicated system. All.Can will be petitioning the Government to streamline cancer care and can be found online at It will be launching the first ever patient survey on waste and inefficiency in cancer care online in early 2018.
To be alerted to when the survey goes live, follow them on twitter @AllCanGroup or on Facebook at: . You can also sign up to the newsletter via the website.
Many time- and money-saving solutions are utterly obvious – I know only too well that doctors who are in the NHS machine can sometimes find it difficult to see the wood for the trees. It is the likes of you and I, who receive treatment, who can point out what can be done better – no doubt many readers will have lots of ideas. 
Thankfully, you who sit on the receiving end of the healthcare system have a chance to have your voice heard (see links below). I’m sure any cancer patient will agree with me that any opportunity to bring a silver lining from our darkest times needs to be grabbed with both hands.

Dr Stu