Gloucestershire hospitals miss target on treating cancer patients
CANCER patients are not getting their first treatment fast enough in county hospitals.
Latest figures show delays in the system at Gloucestershire's biggest hospitals. It affects those with cancers including bladder, kidney, prostate, testicular, colon and rectal.
Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust missed a national target which requires 85 per cent of patients to have their first treatment within 62 days of an urgent GP referral for suspected cancer for the period from April to the end of June. It achieved 83 per cent.
It has raised concerns that if bosses do not get on top of the problem, and miss the target for three financial quarters in a row, health regulator Monitor could be brought in to deal with the problem. Speaking at a trust board meeting on Friday, non-executive director Tony Foster, who recently joined the board, said he was alarmed.
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Addressing directors, he said: "Just as we are getting out of the Accident and Emergency problems, it would be disastrous if we fall into a second problem."
From April to the end of June, 61 out of 357 suspected cancer patients had to wait too long.
Urology saw 32 of 96 experience delays and 10 of the 44 lower gastrointestinal patients waited too long. The two areas were singled out in board papers for "contributing significantly to the problem".
Within the 62 days, appointments and diagnostic procedures are still carried out.
The board was told for patients in lower gastrointestinal had been "severely compromised" by prolonged waiting times for endoscopy.
An action plan has been put in place to address it, including extra sessions being run at weekends.
To target the urology issues, a one-stop clinic has been set up in Cheltenham which sees patients stay within the unit while stopping off at various points to see a consultant, give a sample or have an examination. More patients will be able to use it which will speed up the process, the trust said.
Certain patients are also being given MRI scans earlier.
Jon Scott, director of service delivery, said: "Patient experience is a priority for the trust. It is taking this seriously and has been working hard to reduce waits for this small number of patients."