Medway NHS Foundation Trust is Worst in UK for Cancer Referrals
The waiting period between being referred by a GP and being seen by a specialist in Medway is one of the longest in the country.
Worst in UK
Data released by NHS England shows that just 72.14% of patients referred to specialists at Medway NHS Foundation Trust are actually seen within the target time of 14 days.
These figures make Medway NHS Foundation Trust the worst performing trust in the country for cancer referrals.
Over a quarter of cancer sufferers in Medway had to wait longer than two weeks, with over 100 patients having to wait at one month to be seen by a specialist.
NHS trusts are expected to guarantee a minimum of 93% of patients are seen within a fortnight once they have been referred by a GP. This guideline provided by the NHS is due to the impact that a delay in diagnosis ca have on the effectiveness of treatment.
110 out of the 3,895 individuals in Medway with suspected cancer referred between April and June were forced to wait longer than 28 days to see a specialist and 210 patients had to wait between 22 and 28 days. 429 individuals had to wait between 17 and 21 days, whilst 332 had to wait between 15 and 16 days following referral. In total, 1,085 individuals were not seen by a specialist within the targeted time period of 14 days.
Decline over 6 month period
NHS Medway has seen a decline in the last 6 months of the number of patients seen by a specialist within the targeted two week period. The year’s first quarter saw 85.4% of cancer sufferers seen within the target period compared to a rate of 94.7%of patients seen on time in the final quarter of 2014.
A specialist medical negligence lawyer, Jason Brady, has said:
“It is hugely concerning to see the significant drop in performance against this crucial target in just six months.
“From 94.7% of patients seen within 14 days, to just 72.14% will be of concern to patients and their families.
“Hospitals should take every step possible to meet this target to avoid delays in diagnosis and treatment for some patients.
“Where these delays are unnecessary and where the patient’s health is impacted, these individuals may be entitled to sue to the hospital for clinical negligence.”
15% of patients are given a life expectancy of 5 years or more, depending on the type of cancer they suffer from, if the disease is diagnosed in its’ later stages. However, 90% of individuals are given the same rate of survival when the same cancer type is identified in its’ earliest stages, according to Cancer Research UK (CRUK).
Head of policy at CRUK, Emma Greenwood, has said:
“England’s cancer survival already lags behind comparable countries and will only get worse if the target continues to be breached. This cannot be allowed to continue.
“These targets exist to ensure swift diagnosis of cancer and access to treatment. Patients want confidence that suspected cancer is taken seriously and is a priority for the NHS. These breaches have become a trend and they are worsening.”
Varied Waiting Times
The type of cancer an individual suffers from will ultimately have some influence on a patient’s waiting time between referral and specialist advice.
Of individuals with suspected gynaecological cancer, 98.5% were seen by a specialist in the target period and those with potential lung cancer, a total of 96.1% were seen on time.
On the other hand, however, 231 out of the 321 individuals with suspected cancer of the lower digestive system had to wait at least 15 days – 35 of which still had not been seen following a period of 28 days. Just 28% were seen within the maximum two week wait. Of those 1,500 patients referred to a specialist with suspected skin cancer, over a third waited longer than 14 days to be seen. And 27 patients with suspected breast cancer had to wait longer than 4 weeks to be seen – only 437 out of 612 individuals were seen by a specialist within the target period.
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Source: Kent Online