The trust has been awarded NHS England funding to work with other trusts to improve care for lung cancer patients. 

The money, which will be shared among a number of trusts in north central London including the Royal Free London, has come from the National Diagnostic Capacity Fund.

The funding will be used to support other trusts to implement a new method of lung biopsy, which has been developed by staff at Barnet Hospital.

The lung cancer team, which has won awards for their innovative approach to treating lung cancer, held a symposium last Friday aimed at teaching clinicians from other trusts about the new lung-biopsy technique.

The first pulmonary oncology, biopsy and ablation symposium (POBAS) was organised by Dr Sam Hare, who leads the lung cancer team at Barnet Hospital and Dr Ash Saini, a consultant radiologist. Dr Hare and a range of other speakers discussed techniques and patient pathways in detail so that best practise can be shared. Around 40 clinicians attended the event.

Dr Hare was this week given an innovation award by the Health Service Journal for his work in developing the new ambulatory lung biopsy service, which enables the vast majority of 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. These patients are treated with a small, compact device called the Heimlich valve chest drain (HVCD), instead of a traditional bulky chest drain. 

Dr Hare said: “I was delighted to be able to talk to other clinicians about this new technique. We are already using it at Barnet Hospital and it is improving outcomes for patients and saving the trust money. I believe this treatment should be the norm across all NHS hospitals and it is really important to communicate with medical colleagues across the UK.”

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 UK 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.


Image: Dr Sam Hare speaking at the POBAS

Notes to editors

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'.