Quality in Care Oncology award 2016


The implementation of Stereotactic Ablative Radiotherapy (SABR) for lung cancer at the Northern Ireland Cancer Centre, led by Dr Gerry Hanna and Dr Jonathan McAleese, Consultants in Clinical Oncology, recently won first prize at the Quality in Care (QiC) Oncology 2016 awards on 25th February 2016 in the category of Cancer Team Collaborative Initiative of the Year.

The judges commented that “the team from Belfast City Hospital travelled to Leeds Hospital; the Leeds team then travelled back to Belfast. A good deal of buy-in, for a sustained length of time, is quite an achievement between two hospital teams in very different geographical locations. Safety was right up there on the agenda, within a complex treatment area which meant that the patient benefitted too.” Jean Smith (Radiotherapy Section Manager), Rebecca Blair (Therapy Radiographer) and Dr Ruth Johnston (Consultant Clinical Oncologist) were honoured to accept the award on behalf of the SABR team at the awards ceremony in London.

SABR has completely transformed the management of patients with early stage lung cancer unsuitable for surgery in Northern Ireland, with significantly increased cure and control rates for these cancers.
The treatment is a state-of-the-art radiotherapy technique, allowing the delivery of high doses of conformal radiation with reduced toxicity and fewer radiotherapy treatment visits.

SABR for lung cancer was introduced at the Northern Ireland Cancer Centre in July 2013, following the implementation of new radiotherapy technologies, including cone beam CT and Volumetric Modulated Arc Therapy (VMAT), which made it possible to proceed with this service development.

The introduction of SABR was a collaborative process involving a multi-professional team of medical staff, physicists and therapeutic radiographers who shared knowledge and skills. The Leeds SABR team provided peer review, support and training in the development and early implementation phases. Once the treatment program was established, the therapeutic radiographers developed a training program for SABR delivery with supervisory radiographer role extension. The team wish to acknowledge the massive work by Gillian Traub (Co-Director, Surgery and Specialist Services) in negotiating the funding of this service.

The knowledge and skills gained by the team will be used to continue to advance the highest levels of advanced radiotherapy techniques for cancer treatment in Northern Ireland, including related and developing treatments of stereotactic radiotherapy for brain tumours and SABR for oligometastases.