A new service in Somerset that makes it easier to get checked for womb cancer has seen waiting times for a diagnosis reduce by 59 days.

Somerset NHS Foundation Trust launched the UK's first post-menopausal bleeding self-referral service in September 2023.

Since then, the wait time for an appointment has been reduced from 63 days to just four.

Already over 150 patients have made self-referrals, with two-thirds fitting the criteria for an appointment.

The service notifies these patients about their appointment within 24 hours.

It has also increased the number of patients receiving a cancer diagnosis or all-clear message within 28 days of referral from 41 per cent to 79 per cent, surpassing the national target of 75 per cent.

Womb cancer is a common issue for older women and those post-menopausal.

Somerset County Gazette: Somerset NHS Foundation Trust launched the UK's first post-menopausal bleeding self-referral

Traditional methods required patients to report any unusual symptoms to their GP.

However, this new scheme facilitates direct self-referrals through the Somerset FT website or by contacting the booking team.

Not only does this expedite the appointment process, but it also allows GPs more time to handle other cases.

The method has been appreciated, with every patient surveyed expressing satisfaction with their overall experience.

Mr David Milliken, a consultant gynaecological oncologist at Somerset FT, said: "Once the service is fully established, we estimate that we'll see up to 50 patients a week at our clinics".

Moreover, Mr Milliken emphasised the increased accessibility, allowing patients to attend a community hospital closer to home, rather than having to travel to a larger district general hospital.

He added: "It means that patients only need to attend a single appointment that covers a consultation with a clinician, ultrasound, and outpatient appointment, instead of three separate appointments as before".

Additionally, the service has facilitated raising awareness about womb cancer symptoms, encouraging those in the concerned age bracket to come forward sooner increasing chances of an earlier diagnosis and better outcome.

To make a self-referral, patients experiencing post-menopausal bleeding are advised to visit the Somerset FT website and fill out a referral form, or call the booking office.