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Enhanced recovery project

Recipient: Mr Keith Roberts

Host Institution: University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust

Type of award: 2016/17 Clinical Pioneer Award

Fighting fit: helping patients recover quickly after pancreatic cancer surgery

Pancreatic Cancer UK have awarded £50,000 to Mr Keith Roberts (below with his team), a Consultant Surgeon in Birmingham, to carry out research to ensure that every patient is receiving the best care after having surgery. He hopes this will provide people with the support they need so they can recover quickly and return to full health.

What is current care like for patients after surgery?

Surgery to remove pancreatic cancer is a major operation. Patients will need to be fit enough to have it, and it can affect people emotionally as well as physically. This means that following surgery people often need lots of support and often further treatment, for example pain relief, physiotherapy and chemotherapy.

Kr Team

Research has shown that the earlier a person gets out of bed and starts walking, eating and drinking after an operation, the shorter their recovery time will be. Therefore the right treatment and support after surgery will help patients to get fit, and return to living a healthy life with their loved ones.

There are many reasons why patients might currently not be getting the care and support they need after surgery. This could include patient age or frailty, early cancer recurrence or even a perceived lack of benefit of further treatment by doctors.

We want to see a world where everyone affected by pancreatic cancer receives the best standard of care, treatment and support. We want this world to be a reality to improve survival rates, and lengthen and improve lives.

What is this project aiming to do?

The aims of the project will be to:

  • speed up recovery and reduce length of hospital stay
  • improve patient experience of every aspect of the recovery pathway
  • reduce complications and re-admissions to hospital
  • get buy-in and engagement from health professionals
  • and, ultimately improve patient outcomes.

What will this project actually involve?

Patients who take part in this study will be enrolled into an enhanced recovery programme. Firstly, patients will be taken into the care of a dedicated Enhanced Recovery Nurse, who will be responsible for assessing what support and care is needed at the hospital post-surgery. This will include looking at pain relief, nutritional advice and support, emotional support, and physical support, and deciding what might be needed for each individual patient. Enhanced Recovery Block

Patients will also be referred to a dedicated Physiotherapist who will enrol them into an intensive physiotherapy programme. This will include remote monitoring made possible using ‘Fitbit’ technology. 

Finally, before discharge patients will be subject to a further review of their emotional and physical needs. This will allow the medical team to identify additional support that will be needed after a patient leaves hospital, which will be passed onto geriatricians and oncologists at their local hospital. 

To make this pathway work, Mr Roberts and his team will develop and engage with a network of geriatricians and oncologists in local hospitals. It is these specialists on the ground who be essential in ensuring that every patient gets the individual care and treatment they need to recover quickly and get back to full health.

What is the impact we are hoping for?

In August 2017, Mr Roberts’ previous Pancreatic Cancer UK-funded work featured across the national media. His previous project developed a ‘fast-track’ treatment pathway which increased the number of patients whose surgery was successful by more than a fifth (22 per cent), and saved the NHS an astonishing £3,200 per patient. The new pathway also saw a reduction in complications, with 91% of patients avoiding stenting, and largely reduced waiting times from initial investigation to surgical treatment, from 65 days down to 16 days. 

Mr Roberts’ previous project was a massive success for the team, and a great example of the impact we can have through our funding. We hope that through our continued funding Mr Roberts will be able to have the same impact for patients who have had surgery, seeing them recover quickly and continue living well with their families and loved ones.

You too can support researchers like Mr Keith Roberts, who are looking to directly help patients who are taking on pancreatic cancer right now.

 Support our research with a donation

For more information on other research we are funding, visit the Research pages of our website.