Daily cancer meetings held as concern is raised over delays

Blackpool Victoria Hospital
Blackpool Victoria Hospital
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Daily meetings are being held at Blackpool Victoria Hospital after key monthly cancer targets were missed during the summer.

The number of people with suspected cancer waiting for more than two weeks for urgent appointments was too high in June, while too many waited in excess of 31 days for their treatment following diagnosis.

And too many were also left waiting more than 62 days from their referral to first definitive treatment, leading to fears quarterly targets may also be missed.

Health bosses have partly blamed the delays on an increase in referrals and people putting off their appointments so they could go on holiday, and said they will continue to work hard and hold daily conferenced to keep a closer heck on targets.

“We are working with commissioners and GPs to emphasise to patients the importance of attending appointments once referred to us, and throughout their treatment,” head of performance, planning and contracting at Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Jane Rowley said.

“The trust views cancer services as the highest priority for the care of everyone in our community. This perspective is shared with our CCGs (clinical commissioning groups) and we meet regularly to discuss ways of improving cancer services for patients.”

The trust said it continued to face challenges in cancer care in 2015/16, and that it also expects referral rates to peak this year amid national campaigns.

Several targets were missed last year, including the 62-day screening target in three quarters, and the two-week target for women with symptoms of breast cancer in one quarter. While others were hit, and all targets were met in the first quarter of this year, latest figures reveal performance fell in June, when the 14, 31, and 62-day targets were missed.

The trust is still currently achieving its year-to-date targets however.

“July data is currently unvalidated, however early indications suggest the trust has not achieved the targets for 62-day screening and 62-day first treatment within two months,” Fylde and Wyre CCG papers revealed.

“The predication for August is that the position will be similar to July.

“It is not clear whether the position will be recovered by September.

“Therefore, there is significant risk to the achievement of the quarter two indicator for 62-day screening and 62-day first treatment within two months.

“The decline in performance is partly attributable to an increase in referrals and a higher number of patients rearranging appointments due to the holiday season.

“This is consistent with the trend seen during the same period in 2015.

“The trusts have sourced additional capacity to accommodate the increases in demand.”

Ms Rowley added: “We are working hard to streamline our services so there are no unnecessary delays during the patient’s journey.

“We are all working to improve our care both in quality of life and survival rates, while improving efficiency, by encouraging earlier diagnosis and treatment.”