The United Kingdom’s first validated 24 hour cancer treatment helpline


The Scottish Cancer Treatment Helpline (CTH) initiative is pioneering as it is the only validated service in the UK to have competently trained non clinical staff to use the UKONS tool to triage patients following SACT/radiotherapy 24 hours a day. It has resulted in the delivery of a safe and effective method of identifying and assessing those patients who are at risk from life threatening toxicity from SACT/radiotherapy.


A scoping exercise within Scotland’s three cancer networks found that the advice and help patients received during and following SACT/radiotherapy was inconsistent and unreliable.

NHS Boards must meet the neutropenic sepsis best practice. The Scottish Government chief executive also dictates compliance through CEL 30, requiring all Scottish health boards to develop pathways to enable patients’ access to timely advice, 24 hours a day.

The government set up a Short Life Working group (SLWG) consisting of experts from areas such as oncology, primary care, emergency medicine and NHS 24. It aimed to address identified safety issues, comply with the CEL 30 and ensure best practice for patients during and for up to 8 weeks after SACT/radiotherapy.


The project had three objectives. Firstly, patients would have one telephone number, answered within a specific time to ensure a safe, efficient, high quality, patient centred service. Secondly, patients’ oncology assessment and intervention should be triaged to the most appropriate specialist for their location. Finally, patients who are not admitted, but present with symptoms, would be robustly followed up.

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QiC Oncology Finalist 2014
Awareness and Early Diagnosis
The United Kingdom’s first validated 24 hour cancer treatment helpline
by NHS Lothian


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