Trusts failing on cancer targets

Two Yorkshire hospital trusts failed to meet breast cancer targets in June.
Two Yorkshire hospital trusts failed to meet breast cancer targets in June.
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BREAST CANCER patients at two Yorkshire hospital trusts waited longer than they should have had to before being referred to a consultant, according to NHS England figures.

Hull and East Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust and Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust both failed to meet the 93 per cent target for patients with breast symptoms - where cancer was not initially suspected - being seen by a consultant within 14 days from an urgent GP referral in June.

Across England, hospitals fell below slightly the standard, with the figure at 92.9 per cent - with 44 trusts missing the target.

In Hull, just 88 per cent of patients were seen within 14 days in June, and in Sheffield that number was just below the target at 92.4 per cent.

Across Yorkshire, all other trusts met the target, with one, Bradford Teaching Hospitals, seeing 100 per cent within two weeks.

Charity Breast Cancer Care said the missed targets across England were “concerning”.

Danni Manzi, head of policy and campaigns at the charity, said: “Waiting to find out if you have breast cancer can cause severe anxiety and distress, so it is very concerning that NHS waiting time targets have not been met.

She added: “A delay in diagnosing breast cancer can adversely affect how successful treatment is, so we must address these inconsistencies in how quickly patients are seen across the country and ensure standards do not slip.”

A spokesman the Hull and East Yorkshire trust said it has achieved the 93 per cent target for the last three years and it was “disappointing” it was not achieved it on this occasion.

He added: “We would like to reassure patients that we do have a recovery plan in place, and with additional capacity such as extra appointments and clinics taking place, we’re confident we can improve our performance and return to achieving the target over the coming weeks.”

Kirsten Major, director of strategy and operations at the Sheffield trust, which includes Weston Park Hospital, one of only three dedicated cancer hospitals in the country, said: “Our cancer treatment waiting times are among the lowest in the NHS. The waiting times standards we are required to meet are based on quarterly performance and not monthly, and we have met all of our cancer target times each quarter for the last four years.

“Our staff pride themselves on providing excellent cancer care in a timely way and our patient satisfaction feedback reflects this.”

Data released by NHS England also showed that the target for beginning treatment within 62 days of an urgent referral for cancer was missed in June, and represented the worst result for a single quarter in six years.

Dr Fran Woodard, director of policy and research at Macmillan Cancer Support, said: “Once again we see the NHS is under pressure and there is an urgent need for a coordinated effort across the system to address these delays.”

Dr Barbara Hakin, national director of commissioning operations for NHS England, said it planned to take “comprehensive action” on cancer care.

She said: “In the last five years the number of cancer referrals has leapt by 645,000 or 71 per cent, meaning GPs are increasingly spotting the warning signs early and referring people for tests. We are diagnosing and treating more people than ever before and, as a result, more people than ever are surviving cancer. We continue to treat the vast majority of patients within a month, whether that’s surgery, radiotherapy or drugs.”