Breast cancer patients in Blackpool are treated 'appallingly bad', meeting is told

A mammogram check for breast cancer. Picture by PA Archive/PA Images
A mammogram check for breast cancer. Picture by PA Archive/PA Images
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Treatment of breast cancer patients in Blackpool has been branded "appallingly bad" after health chiefs missed targets due to the consultant leaving their post.

Figures from the Blackpool Clinical Commissioning Group's mid-year performance report show only 25 per cent of patients referred from their GP with breast cancer symptoms were seen within the required time of two weeks.

The rate falls well below the target of 93 per cent.

The report, covering April to September this year, said the waiting times had deteriorated "largely due to consultant radiographer capacity."

David Bonson, chief operating officer at Blackpool CCG, told a meeting of Blackpool Council's adult social care and health scrutiny committee that the service was "a one-consultant service and that consultant has left."

He said the Blackpool Victoria Hospital Trust had tried to recruit a new consultant but there was a shortage and so a locum doctor was now in place.

Mr Bonson added: "I think cancer waiting times will improve by the end of the year, but it's a fragile service.

"We have one radiographer, while there should be more."

Coun Adrian Hutton warned the situation was unacceptable.

He said: "I was horrified to see the breast cancer referral figures were appallingly bad.

"Any female living in Blackpool will be really worried that if they have a problem like that, their chances of getting a quick diagnosis are bad.

"Everyone should be looking at that as it's just not acceptable."

Committee chairman Coun Jim Hobson said plans should have been in place to replace the consultant more quickly.

He said: "It seems to be a one-man show providing this service to the town. There should be something in place to address that."

The committee also heard other waiting time targets for treatment had been missed and this was blamed on pressure put on services last winter which meant many routine procedures were cancelled.

Mr Bonson said; "Elective capacity was switched to deal with emergency pressures so everything was put on hold.

"So the catch up period has taken longer than would be ideal. That has impacted on other services such as elective cancer services."

The committee asked for further updates on waiting times to be brought to its next meeting.