NHS trust faces inquiry over A&E and cancer waits

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health chiefs have announced an inquiry into waiting times for patients needing emergency and cancer care at a NHS trust in Yorkshire.

Regulator Monitor said it wanted urgent improvements at York Teaching Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, which runs services for 800,000 people including in York, Scarborough and Bridlington.

Concerns centre on the trust’s failure to meet the quarterly national A&E waiting time target for the fifth time in nearly two years and over waits for cancer patients, in particular those with breast symptoms in Scarborough. Officials said the repeated failures could indicate wider problems at the trust.

Monitor regional director Frances Shattock said: “It is simply not acceptable for patients to be waiting too long in A&E or to be seen following a cancer referral.”

York Outer MP Julian Sturdy said: “The current delays are frankly not good enough as I have made clear to the hospital trust.

“It is absolutely vital for patients across York and the wider region that our local hospitals consistently deliver the highest quality healthcare.”

Trust chief executive Patrick Crowley said: “The difficulties in A&E are well documented, and in many ways this action by Monitor is inevitable given the pressures we are facing. There needs to be a recognition that this is a whole-system issue and not one that can only be resolved through changes in either A&E or the wider acute pathway within our hospitals.

“I would like to reassure patients that Monitor’s investigation is not concerned with the care or treatment provided for our cancer patients. The issue is with our difficulty in meeting targets around initial assessment and diagnosis in specific specialties.”

Problems recruiting key staff in Scarborough for breast care had led to difficulties delivering services and since July referrals had been directed to York.

“This is a temporary move and we are working hard to address the recruitment issue and looking at different ways of staffing the service. Once the situation has improved, we will once again deliver a breast service on the east coast,” he said.