Experts at James Paget Hospital reassure breast cancer patients of high standard of care

James Paget Hospital breast cancer specialists (left to right) Mrs Sarah Downey, Miss Sue Down and P

James Paget Hospital breast cancer specialists (left to right) Mrs Sarah Downey, Miss Sue Down and Prof Jerome Pereira, who have stepped in to reassure patients. - Credit: Archant

Three top cancer specialists have stepped in to reassure breast cancer patients at the James Paget Hospital that they can be sure of the highest standards of care, following a report last week in Lancet Oncology.

Picture of: Supplied by Hugh Sturzaker of the last operation at Gt Yarmouth General Hospital, before

Picture of: Supplied by Hugh Sturzaker of the last operation at Gt Yarmouth General Hospital, before it closed.ReporterStephen PullingerFor: EDP SundayLocation: Gorleston23/08/2--7Photographer: Rob Colman

The report said the James Paget was among 10 hospitals - including Addenbrooke's Hospital, Cambridge and Ipswich Hospital - with the highest death rates following treatment, but the doctors say the figures were flawed in the national study, and the findings are based on a small patient sample.

Professor Jerome Pereira, who is internationally renowned for his work in raising standards in the treatment of breast cancer care, said: 'The report relates to a small group of patients with known secondary cancer and who were treated with chemotherapy for this. The vast majority of breast cancer patients (85pc) are cured by the combination of treatments that is given at the time of diagnosis. However, a few go on to develop further disease despite such treatment.

'The number of patients that died over the period of the study is nine and one of these was incorrectly recorded. If this small error alone was corrected, we would not be in the group of hospitals highlighted in the report.

' However, we welcome the opportunity to ensure we are delivering the highest standards of care.'

James Paget University Hospital, Gorleston, Norfolk.

James Paget University Hospital, Gorleston, Norfolk. - Credit: Nick Butcher

He added that, along with colleagues Mrs Sarah Downey and Miss Sue Down, they were very concerned to take steps to reassure patients and the local population.

'We have carefully reviewed the list of patients included in this study. All the patients we reviewed were treated according to national guidelines. All were seen regularly at the Sandra Chapman Suite and their general health status recorded, and this is a higher standard of care than most units were able to confirm in the study.'

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Professor Pereira added: 'We would like to assure our patients we are constantly striving to ensure they receive the very highest standards of care, as shown by our involvement in the development of guidelines and training at regional, national and international level.'

The quality of breast cancer care developed by the James Paget and its contribution to raising standards in terms of patient related outcomes, education and training has led to international acclaim.

Currently, the surgeons run international masterclasses in breast cancer management and surgery in places like India, Prague, Istanbul, Singapore and the UK, providing training to improve the quality of breast cancer care for patients worldwide.

Leading the way

The James Paget University Hospital Breast Care Unit was established in 1994 by Mr Hugh Sturzaker and Professor Jerome Pereira, with generous funding from the local community. At the outset, audit and clinical governance were key to services provided to make sure that patients received the highest quality of care.

• In 1997, immediate breast reconstruction was started at the Trust, the first District General Hospital to provide this service in the East of England with simultaneous audit along with patient satisfaction to assess the quality of the new service provided.

• In 2000, the breast audit was extended to a number of hospitals in the Eastern Region. As this was the first patient related outcome measure study in breast surgery undertaken in the UK, the Health Care Commission, commissioned a national audit on mastectomy and breast reconstruction in 2007, which was led by Professor Pereira.

This was the first and largest study in the world on breast cancer surgery and included 18,000 patients and information was obtained on surgical outcomes, complications and patient satisfaction, leading to the best practice guidelines for oncoplastic breast surgery in 2012. These guidelines are supported by the Royal College of Surgeons of England, Association of Breast Surgery, British Association of Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgery, The Royal College of Nursing and the Health Care Commission. It remains the gold standard for practice of oncoplastic breast surgery and reconstruction in the UK and abroad.

• In 2005, Mrs Sarah Downey was appointed to replace Mr Sturzaker on his retirement and she has been instrumental in playing a key role in further raising the quality and standards to care in her role as lead Quality Assurance Surgeon for Breast Cancer Screening for the East of England.

• In 2013, Miss Sue Down was appointed as consultant oncoplastic breast surgeon, where her role has been as Director of the MS in Oncoplastic Breast Surgery Programme and co-chair of the East of England Cancer Network Group.