In December 2014, the City Hospitals Sunderland made a decision, with the full involvement of Sunderland Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) as the main commissioner, to temporarily suspend the breast service to new referrals. This difficult decision was made in the interests of patient safety as the Trust is currently unable to provide a consultant-led service for the local population.
Breast surgery for new patients has subsequently been provided by other local Trusts and Sunderland CCG has started the process to develop a new breast-care service model that will deliver a high quality service that best suits the patient; improves outcomes and is cost effective. As the CCG is genuinely committed to putting patients at the centre of service delivery and ensuring patients are key stakeholders in the commissioning cycle, this engagement exercise is recognised as a priority starting point for that development process.
The engagement and insight collected was a key factor in developing the requirements for the service specification, and influenced the model. In 2017, further engagement was carried out with patients once the new service was established. This engagement aimed to explore how people felt about the new service, and identify any further improvements which could be made.