NHS England has now published two new service specifications relating to the provision of radiotherapy services for adults which will take effect from 1 April 2019, as follows:
- External beam radiotherapy services delivered as part of a radiotherapy network (adults); and
- Operational delivery networks (ODN) for external beam radiotherapy services (adults).
The specifications describe a number of requirements including:
- Each ODN will be hosted by a single radiotherapy provider within the ODN;
- Each ODN establishes a Network Oversight Group to facilitate the ongoing development of the Network;
- The Chair must be from a different provider to that of the ODN host; and
- The Chair must be able to represent the wider cancer system, to enable consensus to be reached across organisational boundaries on the network plan and oversee the delivery of the work programme.
In addition, NHS England, via the National Cancer Programme of Care, will establish an Implementation Oversight Group to provide support to radiotherapy networks as they form. The group will comprise specialised commissioners, Network Chairs and the ODN hosts together to share learning and drive improvement. It will also provide a conduit for progress reporting and issue escalation through to both the Specialised Commissioning Oversight Group and the National Cancer Board.
NHS England is working with NHS Digital and a small number of National Health Service providers to develop and test approaches to information governance and data sharing implications when using cloud-based technology solutions. They are also exploring options to upgrade radiotherapy planning system software to support information technology connectivity. They intend to disseminate the learning from these early test sites.
NHS England is committed to ensuring the success of the ODNs and therefore intends to provide additional resources over and above the normal funding of radiotherapy services to support their establishment. The resources will be held by the ODN host provider who will be responsible for the programme management function, including the establishment and maintenance of a Network Oversight Group and any clinical subgroups needed to agree and implement change.
NHS England also intends to provide addition investment in each year of the Long Term Plan to support information technology connectivity across Networks including the use of digital solutions. NHS England intends to test a number of approaches to explore the information governance and technical requirements required in the last few months of this year. This will include testing a number of models that we think will be relevant in different geographies across the country (e.g. rural, providers not on same system etc.) Specific funding will be confirmed in due course once NHS England has worked through these issues with three test sites across England.