Dr Sam Hare, consultant thoracic radiologist and radiology leadA team of radiologists and respiratory consultants who introduced a new more efficient lung biopsy method at Barnet Hospital have won the NHS Innovations Challenge Prize for cancer treatment. 

The team’s innovative ambulatory lung biopsy service enables the vast majority of Royal Free London patients to be discharged just 30 minutes after their biopsy. The method also allows biopsy patients who suffer a collapsed lung to be treated at home as out-patients. 

In most hospitals throughout the NHS and the rest of the world, patients who undergo even routine lung biopsies are admitted to a hospital bed and remain in hospital for four to six hours to be monitored for lung collapse (pneumothorax). 

However, the relatively small number of Barnet Hospital patients that experience pneumothorax are treated with a small, compact device called the Heimlich valve chest drain (HVCD), instead of a traditional bulky chest drain. While the existing system would see those patients admitted for up to two days, the portable device allows them to leave hospital almost immediately and treat their collapsed lung themselves, safely and effectively at home.

Researchers suggest the new method, which had never been used in Europe before, could free up hundreds of hospital beds while also allowing more patients to undergo diagnostic biopsy in a much shorter space of time, leading to earlier lung cancer diagnosis. The new method also allows clinicians to biopsy patients who would usually not be eligible for the procedure due to the high risk of lung collapse. 

While most hospitals of equivalent size expect to do around 40 biopsies each year, thanks to the new method Barnet Hospital expects to have performed around 300 between April 2015 and April 2016. Currently, Barnet Hospital is the only European hospital using the early discharge/out-patient HVCD method. However, NHS England is now looking into how it could be adopted by hospitals across the capital and the rest of the UK.

The team, which is led by Dr Sam Hare, consultant thoracic radiologist and radiology lead, has been named the winner of the NHS Innovation Challenge Prize in the ‘cancer care’ category.

The prizes seek to encourage, recognise and reward front line innovation and drive adoption of these innovations across the NHS. The prize includes £100,000 funding to support the project.

Dr Hare said: "It is a huge privilege to be honoured with this NHS Innovation award. This is an exciting opportunity to help shape a new and brighter landscape for lung cancer patients. The prize funding and support from NHS England will help us ensure that the ‘Barnet model’ becomes the norm throughout the UK, so that patients can be diagnosed more quickly and access the latest treatments."

Dr Dean Creer, a respiratory consultant at BH, said: “The method introduced by Dr Hare has led to a seismic change in my practice for patients with possible lung cancers. They are now able to have an early, definitive diagnosis which helps us make choices with more certainty and clarity.”


Image: Dr Sam Hare, consultant thoracic radiologist and radiology lead

Notes to editors

Media contacts: daniel.obrien1@nhs.net or call 020 7472 2963

About the Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust

The Royal Free began as a pioneering organisation and continues to play a leading role in the care of patients. Our mission is to provide world class expertise and local care. In the 21st century, the Royal Free London continues to lead improvements in healthcare.

The Royal Free London attracts patients from across the country and beyond to its specialist services in liver and kidney transplantation, haemophilia, renal care, HIV, infectious diseases, plastic surgery, immunology, Parkinson's disease, vascular surgery, cardiology, amyloidosis and scleroderma and we are a member of the academic health science partnership UCLPartners.

In July 2014 Barnet Hospital and Chase Farm Hospital became part of the Royal Free London. Read 'A bigger trust, a better future'.