The endocrinology department at St Bartholomew’s Hospital has become the first service of its kind in the world to be awarded the full five stars in an independent review by the European Network for the Study of Adrenal Tumours (ENSAT).
Endocrinology is the study and management of rare and complex diseases affecting the glands – organs in the body that regulate vital functions through the release of chemicals called hormones.
The adrenal glands sit above the kidneys and make a combination of steroid hormones from the outer part (cortex) and the hormones adrenaline and noradrenaline from the inner part (medulla). Between them, they control heart rate, blood pressure and metabolism.
A tumour can cause the adrenal glands to produce too much of these hormones, triggering a variety of problems such as weight gain, unwanted hair growth in women, heart palpitations and high blood pressure. Tumours, mainly found in adults, will usually be non-cancerous (benign), although around 1 in 10 are cancerous (malignant). It's often possible to remove a tumour through surgery.
The endocrinology department at St Bartholomew’s Hospital is one of the largest in the country and treats around 2,000 new patients each year from across the UK, around 200 of whom are diagnosed with rare endocrine cancers.
The service has been awarded ‘centre of excellence’ status by ENSAT, an international network dedicated to improving care for patients with adrenal tumours, for its outstanding contribution to both care and research.
Centres are judged against five domains or ‘stars’ which are aligned to areas of adrenal tumour care and research. St Bartholomew’s is to date the only centre in the world with all five stars – four more than the any other centre worldwide. Whilst predominantly covering Europe, ENSAT includes several members from continents including Asia and Australasia.
Consultant endocrinologist Professor William Drake who leads the service, said: “This recognition is the culmination of a lot of hard work over many years by dozens of colleagues building the practice, training junior doctors and nurses and providing research opportunities for talented people – all with the long-term aim of improving outcomes for people with adrenal tumours.
“To achieve this endorsement despite the disruption of the pandemic makes us all very proud.”
President of ENSAT Professor Martin Faßnacht said: “The application process is incredibly robust and requires well established structures and quality data. Meeting this criteria across all five categories during a pandemic is really impressive and sends a strong message that the UK remains a key part of the European community dedicated to improving adrenal tumour care.”
St Bartholomew’s Hospital chief executive Professor Charles Knight said: “Congratulations to Professor Drake and his team for this amazing achievement. To be recognised as a world-leading service is testament to their skill, professionalism and dedication to improving outcomes for their patients.”