The 2014 National Bowel Cancer Audit (NBOCA) Report reported apparently poorer results for patients with bowel cancer in Wales two years after diagnosis when compared with English Networks delivering cancer care. Bowel cancer outcomes in Wales also appeared poorer at two years following an operation to remove bowel cancer.
There was uncertainty whether this apparent difference was due to problems with data collection or if it reflected actual problems with bowel cancer care delivery in Wales. An enquiry was suggested by Welsh Council members of the Association of Coloproctology of Great Britain and Ireland (ACPGBI) and followed by a formal invitation from Dr Tom Crosby, Medical Director of Wales Cancer Network.
The Enquiry Panel, chaired by Immediate Past President Professor Robert Steele, travelled to Wales in April 2016 to consult with the Welsh multidisciplinary teams and audit support services. The panel also undertook further data analysis using data held by NBOCA and the national cancer registry for Wales. The panel returns to Wales on 9 December 2016 to discuss the details of the report published today.
While the lack of high quality data ultimately prevented a definite conclusion, the panel has emphasized the importance of good audit in ensuring high quality cancer care and driving up standards. Detailed recommendations are provided on audit processes and support, data accuracy, clinician engagement and ownership of data, and government infrastructure to facilitate these processes.
Professor Steele has paid tribute to the unparalleled level of engagement shown by Welsh clinicians during this enquiry.