St James’s University Hospital – part of Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust (LTHT) – offers state-of-the-art surgery in ovarian cancer, new accreditation has shown.

The Gynaecological Oncology department at St James’s Hospital has received Centre of Excellence certification in advanced ovarian cancer surgery, awarded by the European Society of Gynaecological Oncology (ESGO). This distinguished certification is awarded to centres which provide the best available surgical approaches in ovarian cancer.

St James’s Hospital joins two other centres in the UK with just 12 centres in the whole of Europe who have been awarded this title. The award reflects the robustness of advanced ovarian cancer surgery delivered in these centres. The role of Centres of Excellence is to highlight the quality assurance programme and to offer leading roles in education, improving quality and to set the basis for a European network of Centres of Excellence. In the UK, St James’s Hospital joins The Hammersmith and The Royal Marsden in making up the country’s three recognised Centres of Excellence.

Mr Diederick de Jong, Consultant Surgeon in Gynaecological Oncology, said:  “This is fantastic news for women in Yorkshire. The surgical team at St James’s plays a pivotal role in the surgery of women with ovarian cancer on a regional, national and international level. This achievement is the result of a huge amount of effort in improving the quality of surgery, teamwork and collaboration over the last three years.”

He added: “We are very proud of this certification, but this is equally a reflection of the excellent collaboration of our team with everyone we work with, including nurses, anaesthetists, and other surgical teams – this award is also an award for all people working at St James’s Hospital.”

The robustness of surgery in ovarian cancer is a major contributing factor in achieving better outcomes for women with ovarian cancer. An international panel of experts introduced a range of stringent quality indicators in 2016 in order to measure this. Those centres who comply with these required indicators are considered by ESGO to be certified for advanced ovarian cancer surgery. A small number of high volume centres whose surgical performance is above and beyond these quality indicators are considered to be awarded a prestigious ESGO Centre of Excellence.

Julian Hartley, Chief Executive at LTHT, said: “This is fantastic news and really something for the whole Trust to be proud of – I think we all knew we offered excellent Gynaecological Oncology surgery here in Leeds but it’s great to have this confirmed by peers, and on an international scale. This accreditation really does further our goal to be the best for specialist care, education and research – my congratulations to the team.”

A recent study in the Lancet Oncology found that for various types of cancer, survival in the UK is improving but is still lagging behind other industrialised countries. Survival in the UK has increased largely because the quality of surgery has radically improved, and more surgery is taking place than before. Nowadays more people are being looked after by specialist teams, rather than surgeons who aren’t experts in that area.

According to Mr de Jong, more investment in these specialised centres – as well as the systems and innovations that support them – are required to close the gap with other industrialised countries: “This quality improvement programme of ESGO is a substantial move in the right direction and the accreditation received here in Leeds shows that the UK is finally beginning to catch up with other industrialised countries.”

He continued: “The recognition of the high standards offered at St James’s by ESGO serves as a motivator to improve further and aims at supra regional centralisation of surgical care for women with an advanced stage of ovarian cancer. We are committed to maintain continuous improvement so that we can offer the care those women deserve.”

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