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.

Gill Barker

From reaching the summit of Mount Everest to cycling thousands of miles across America, there’s no end to the lengths people will go to for a cause close to their heart. Breaking boundaries and taking on gruelling endeavours can mean the person taking part enjoys the experience of a lifetime while the charity benefits from generous sponsorship. But taking time off work and organising an extreme, and often costly, adventure just isn’t possible for everyone. That’s why Gill Barker, from Wakefield, has created her own twist on the trend to find the toughest, most epic charity challenge. Gill is set to turn 35 in 2020 – and reaching this milestone has inspired her to have a good think about what she’d like to achieve, both physically and mentally, and write a bucket list to help reach those goals. Gill will complete 35 challenges before her 35th birthday on Saturday March 14. Some are small, some are huge, but all of them will push her beyond her comfort zone. “Turning 33 felt like a big thing for me,” explains Gill, who works in marketing at Leeds Trinity University. “I started to think about the life decisions I’d made. I looked back and while I’d had fun, I regretted all those weekends where I could have been having more fulfilling experiences and creating memories. “I have a full-time job so I couldn’t do a massive overseas challenge, but I realised I could break it down into little bits and still raise as much money as possible for charity.” Gill has already ticked 11 challenges off her list. She’s faced her fear of heights at the outdoor adventure centre Go Ape, trained with the Leeds Rhinos, cycled 128 miles from coast to coast and climbed Snowdon, the highest mountain in Wales. Other challenges have involved changing her diet to ensure she’s getting all the nutrients she needs, and going to the gym more regularly on her own – something that would previously have caused Gill a considerable amount of anxiety. During the festive season, Gill kept active by completing a ‘12 days of Christmas’ workout challenge. Gill is now taking part in RED January, a campaign run in partnership with Mind that encourages participants to beat the winter blues by being active every day throughout the month. Then, later this month she’ll be taking to the slopes at Xscape Yorkshire to try her hand at skiing for the first time. Gill’s biggest test of her ‘35 before 35’ mission so far will be taking part in a 24-hour run in March. The run will be completed on a 3.71-mile loop so not only will it be physically demanding, it will also play on her mental toughness. She will also be finishing the year in style by taking part in the Honolulu Marathon in Hawaii in December. There are three conditions that all of Gill’s challenges must meet – they must be physical or stretch her mentally, they all need to be self-funded and they can’t affect her job. Driving Gill’s ambition is a passion to help two local charities that have personal meaning to her – Yorkshire Cancer Research and Leeds Mind. She’s already raised more than £500 for the two causes. “Like many families across the UK, my own family has a history of cancer,” explains Gill. “But people close to me have recently been affected by cancer, too. They’ve all been so strong and inspirational. I wanted to do something that would support them. “I chose to raise money for Yorkshire Cancer Research after reading that people living here are more likely to get cancer, and more likely to die from it, than people living in other areas of the country. The statistics really shocked me.” Gill chose Leeds Mind following her own struggles with mental health. Her ‘35 before 35’ challenge has helped her overcome a period of depression. “It’s given me something to focus on,” Gill says. “Many people are affected by depression, even those who continue to work and function in everyday life. It’s very easy to fall into that slump and stop doing the things you used to enjoy. “I’m feeling much fitter and healthier, but I’m also happier and more confident now that I have a new focus. “If I can encourage one person who may be going through a difficult period to be brave and do something they’ve never done before, face a fear or take on a new challenge in order to gain a new focus, then that would be brilliant. If I can do it, anyone can.” You can find out more about Gill Barker’s challenges and sponsor her by visiting www.35before35.co.uk. You can also follow her progress on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. She is also looking for suggestions for challenges to complete the 35 as she is still a few short on her list. For further information on Yorkshire Cancer Research, visit www.yorkshirecancerresearch.org.u

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.”