Cancer patients 'waiting too long' for hospital appointments

PUBLISHED: 07:25 27 June 2019 | UPDATED: 07:25 27 June 2019

Hospitals are required to see patients within 62 days to ensure prompt diagnosis and treatment.

Hospitals are required to see patients within 62 days to ensure prompt diagnosis and treatment.

Archant

Weston General Hospital was one of the worst scoring hospitals in the country for seeing cancer patients within 62 days of an urgent referral.

Hospitals are required to see patients within 62 days to ensure prompt diagnosis and treatment.

Weston Area Health NHS Trust (WAHT) scored in the bottom three in the country in April, according to NHS figures, with just 55.9 per cent of patients seen within the target time.

A cancer charity says patients are 'waiting too long' for care which could given them a better chance of survival.

Cancer Research UK's policy manager Matt Case said: "These figures rightly highlight that, despite the NHS treating more people than ever, there just aren't enough diagnostic staff to meet rising demand and many patients are still waiting too long for the care they need.

"This is the case at Weston General just as it is at hospitals across the country.

"For anyone waiting for a cancer diagnosis or the all-clear, it's an incredibly anxious time, and delays can make that worse.

"Workforce shortages also make it harder to spot cancers at an earlier stage, which would give patients more treatment options and a better chance of long-term survival.

"Diagnosing more cancers at an early stage will mean more people need to be referred for tests and treatment - but to have any chance of meeting its early diagnosis ambitions, the Government must invest to make sure we have enough key cancer staff now and in the future."

The target set for hospitals is for 85 per cent of patients to receive their first treatment within 62 days.

Director of operations and deputy chief executive for WAHT, Phil Walmsley, said: "We know that timely referrals and rapid access to treatment is extremely important.

"Patients can be reassured that here at Weston urgent referrals for patients with suspected cancer are dealt with in a timely manner and the trust regularly meets and exceeds the 90 per cent target for urgent referrals to be seen within two weeks - in March the Trust achieved 97.36 per cent.

"Meeting the 62-day referral to treatment performance standard can be challenging and we are working to further improve our performance in this area to ensure a consistent experience for all of our patients."

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