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Hospital ranked second worst in country over cancer referrals

PUBLISHED: 07:12 22 January 2018 | UPDATED: 07:12 22 January 2018

Weston General Hospital.

Weston General Hospital.

Archant

Weston General Hospital has the second worst record in the country for urgently treating patients referred with suspected cancer.

Cancer Research UK (CRUK) has urged the hospital to take immediate action to address shortcomings and to not keep people waiting for care during such an emotionally troubling time.

Hospital chiefs have conceded its performance is below par with figures ranking it 133rd out of 134 trusts in England and Wales. They say Weston Area Health NHS Trust (WAHT) performs well in other areas.

WAHT began treatment within two months of receiving an urgent referral from a GP in only 57 per cent of cases.

Only University Hospital of South Manchester recorded a lower percentage in November.

CRUK’s Sara Bainbridge said: “We know many hospitals are struggling to meet the 62-day cancer waiting times. Part of the reason is because NHS diagnostic services are short-staffed.

“We need the Government to make sure there are more staff to deliver the tests and treatment people need on time.

“Waiting for tests or to start treatment can be an anxious period, so it’s important action is taken urgently to address these shortages.”

Bristol’s hospitals met the 85 per cent national average, but Taunton and Yeovil fell short.

Weston last met the target in December 2016, with diagnosing complications a factor.

Phil Walmsley, WAHT’s director of operations, said: “Our average referral for 62-day wait for treatment wait is about 70 per cent and we fully accept much more needs to be done to improve.

“We take cancer care very seriously and are currently in the middle of a wholescale investigation into our cancer patient referral routes to find permanent solutions to minimise any delays.

“Nevertheless within our overall cancer performance there are better elements for our cancer patients at Weston.

“For example 90 per cent of cancer patients are referred to treatment within two weeks, 95 per cent of breast cancer patients are receiving referrals in two weeks and 100 per cent of our patients are meeting the 31 days from diagnosis to treatment target set by the national NHS.

“As a smaller hospital we see fewer patients and consequently it takes less to affect the performance target, but for us every patient is a person, not a statistic and we are committed to working harder to speed our patients through the referral process and on to treatment and recovery.”

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