Background: The number of people surviving cancer for extended periods is increasing. Consequently, due to workload and quality issues, there is considerable interest in alternatives to traditional secondary care-led cancer follow-up.
Objective: To explore the views of potential recipients of shared follow-up of cancer. To conduct a modelling exercise for shared follow-up and to explore the opinions and experiences of both the patients and GPs involved.
Methods: Semi-structured audio-taped telephone or face-to-face interviews were conducted with 18 patients with a range of cancers currently attending for structured follow-up in secondary care. Six GPs and five patients (four with melanoma and one with stable metastatic colorectal cancer) took part in a shared follow-up modelling exercise. During the modelling exercise, the GPs attended 4 review meetings, which included brief training seminars, and at the conclusion 10 individuals took part in semi-structured audio-taped telephone or face-to-face interviews.
Results: Many rural patients, and some urban patients, would appreciate follow-up being available nearer to home with the associated benefits of time saved and easier parking and continuity of care. Patients have concerns related to the level of extra training received by the GP and loss of contact with their consultant. GPs have concerns about gaining and maintaining the clinical skills needed to conduct follow-up, especially if the numbers of patients seen are small. They also have concerns about lack of support from other GPs, and some administrative and organizational issues.
Conclusions: Many patients would be willing to have GPs share their cancer follow-up with the caveat that they had received extra training and were appropriately supported by secondary care specialists. Patients attending shared care clinics appreciated a local service and longer appointment times. GPs stress the importance of maintaining their own clinical skills and reliable clinical and administrative support from secondary care.