ECHO COMMENT: Gloucestershire hospitals too slow off the mark for cancer patients
THE possibility of pay cuts, reduced hours and fewer holidays have hospital staff deeply concerned.
Our hospitals trust has stressed that these are only options being considered as ways of cutting costs and would actually safeguard jobs.
But it illustrates an NHS that has little room for manoeuvre when it comes to ensuring it is doing its most important job properly – treating patients when they most need it.
And if there is a time when prompt, thorough care is needed, it is surely when someone is confronted for the first time by that dreaded word "cancer".
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The first response will be one of total shock. When that passes, there is only one way for any reassurance - detailed tests and quick treatment.
But that same Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust that is so hard-up it is considering ripping up its staff contracts, is missing key national cancer targets.
Some 85 per cent of patients must have their first treatment within 62 days of an urgent GP referral for suspected cancer. But here, the target has been missed in two departments, with just 83 per cent being seen.
Let's not see this as missing the target by "only" two per cent. It means that in every 100 patients potentially suffering from conditions including bladder and kidney cancer, 17 are not being treated within two months.
That is appalling. Imagine the heartache both the patients and their families and close friends must have to go through.
If anything, the target itself needs to be much tougher for there to be any semblance of the needs of the patients genuinely being put first.
An "action plan" is apparently in place to tackle the problem, with extra sessions being set up at weekends.
That is the very least that needs to be done. Let's just hope the trust spends as much time resolving this issue as it does pouring over its staff's terms and conditions.
DOGS and Storks sounds like a great idea.
Caring for newborn babies and dogs in the home sound completely contradictory.
But now Rachel Butler has solved the problem for her tots and Staffordshire bull terriers, she's spreading the word.
There'll be a lot of interest.