GIRFT launches NHS Cancer Programme review into services for head and neck cancer patients

The Getting It Right First Time (GIRFT) programme has appointed a team of seven specialist clinicians to lead a national review into services for head and neck cancer patients.

Commissioned and funded by NHS England’s Cancer Programme, the new workstream will focus on supporting England’s 21 Cancer Alliances to better provide timely, equitable and effective care which delivers the best possible outcomes for both patients and NHS colleagues.

The review aims to cover organisational issues, such as multidisciplinary team (MDT) working and workforce, as well as specific stages along the pathway, including improving the patient’s time to diagnosis and treatment.

A questionnaire for trusts is being prepared to help gather data on the current picture for services, and the team hope to begin deep dive visits with hub trusts and their spoke teams in summer 2023.

The seven new clinical co-leads are:

  • Dr Camilla Dawson, a consultant speech and language therapist at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham, and professional advisor for the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists.
  • Jennifer Graystone, a consultant oral and maxillofacial surgeon at Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, and clinical director of the Thames Valley Cancer Alliance.
  • Martin Heaton, a consultant plastic surgeon at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, specialising in head and neck reconstruction and the surgical management of skin cancer.
  • Professor Jarrod Homer, professor of otolaryngology-head and neck surgery and a consultant head and neck surgeon at the Manchester Head and Neck Centre, part of the Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust.
  • Long Li, lecturer in dietetics at the University of Surrey and a member of the British Dietetic Association oncology specialist group head and neck committee.
  • Amanda Naylor, a Macmillan head and neck clinical nurse specialist at the Milton Keynes University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, and a committee member of the British Association of Head and Neck Oncology Nurses (BAHNON).
  • Dr Ketan Shah, a head and neck clinical oncologist, chair of the head and neck MDT and head of radiotherapy at the Oxford Cancer Centre, part of the Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.


There are around 12,500 new cases of head and neck cancer diagnosed in the UK each year. The term ‘head and neck’ encompasses more than 30 areas where cancer can develop, including the mouth and lips, voice box (larynx), throat (pharynx), nose and sinuses and the area at the back of the nose and mouth (nasopharynx).

“I am delighted to welcome this multidisciplinary group to the GIRFT programme, coming together from across England to work on this wide-reaching national review. I look forward to seeing them utilise the breadth of their experience, expertise and knowledge in the specialty to make a real difference, both to head and neck cancer patients and the healthcare teams working so hard on their behalf.”

“The NHS provides fantastic care to cancer patients, and we are committed to doing all we can to ensure every single patient receives the very best levels of care. This review will consider how we can deliver that for the thousands of people diagnosed every year with head and neck cancers, complementing the reports and audits we have already commissioned for several other cancers, to make recommendations on how we can diagnose these cancers as quickly as possible and deliver treatments that provide the best possible outcomes.”

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