Comparative indicators for cancer network management in England: availability, characteristics and presentation.
McCarthy M., Gonzalez-Izquierdo A., Sherlaw-Johnson C., Khachatryan A., Coleman MP., Rachet B.
BACKGROUND: In 2000, the national cancer plan for England created 34 cancer networks, new organisational structures to coordinate services across populations varying between a half and three million people. We investigated the availability of data sets reflecting measures of structure, process and outcome that could be used to support network management. METHODS: We investigated the properties of national data sets relating to four common cancers - breast, colorectal, lung and prostate. We reviewed the availability and completeness of these data sets, identified leading items within each set and put them into tables of the 34 cancer networks. We also investigated methods of presentation. RESULTS: The Acute Hospitals Portfolio and the Cancer Standards Peer Review recorded structural characteristics at hospital and cancer service level. Process measures included Hospital Episode Statistics, recording admissions, and Hospital Waiting-List data. Patient outcome measures included the National Survey of Patient Satisfaction for cancer, and cancer survival, drawn from cancer registration. Data were drawn together to provide an exemplar indicator set a single network, and methods of graphical presentation were considered. CONCLUSION: While not as yet used together in practice, comparative indicators are available within the National Health Service in England for use in performance assessment by cancer networks.