European Cancer Network Standards evaluated in pilot visit
Building upon our highly successful quality accreditation programme for Cancer Centres and Comprehensive Cancer Centres (now involving nearly 60 large centres, with our standards being certified by ISQua) the A&D programme has now developed (with the aid of multiple professional and patient organisations) a set of quality standards for cancer networks, which evaluate the effectiveness of each cancer network structure. These European Cancer Network Standards are in draft form and are being evaluated in pilot visits. One pilot visit has been performed in April 2021 in the Toulouse; other pilots will follow, in order to optimise the process.
The standards address the need for equity for patients across a local health economy – in terms of access to specialist cancer diagnostic and treatment services, aftercare, and access to clinical trials. All healthcare providers in the network are expected to use the same clinical guidelines, participate in extended multidisciplinary teams, document clear patient pathways, and have protocols for continuity of care for patients. To achieve this, cancer networks require good governance, operational standards, an effective ICT infrastructure, good infrastructures for clinical and translational research, biobanking, core research facilities, knowledge exchange programmes, structured patient collaboration, and educational programmes involving at least one University. The standards recognise that the structure of networks is likely to depend on the health systems of the Member State involved, so flexibility is built into the standards.