A SURGE in demand following national awareness raising campaigns has resulted in the county’s hospitals missing key cancer targets.
Bosses at Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust say they have recruited a number of new specialists to try and rectify the situation.
At least 96 per cent of cancer patients are supposed to wait only 31 days before they are first treated but during June the figure was 92.72 per cent, down from 95.15 per cent the previous month.
Just under 82 per cent of patients were first treated within 62 days from the National Screening Service against a target of 85 per cent while the two week waiting time for breast cancer patients was also missed with 89.12 per cent of people seen within time against a target of 93 per cent or more.
A number of high profile national awareness campaigns have been carried out recently around blood in urine, bowel cancer and breast cancer which has resulted in an increase in referrals. Breast cancer referrals alone are up by 20 per cent.
In response an extra breast surgeon and colorectal surgeon have been hired, as well as two new urologists and an upper GI surgeon.
Stewart Messer, the Trust’s chief operating officer, told a recent board meeting they had asked the Department of Health for more warning about when campaigns were being run rather than being informed at the ‘eleventh hour’ so they could better prepare and match their capacity to meet demand.
Chief executive Penny Venables added there were also other issues which created genuine delays in waiting times such as patients choosing to defer treatment for personal reasons.
“A lot of our patients now are over 80 and they haven’t just got cancer but a lot of other morbidities and it’s how you deal with which first we need to look at and see what’s causing the specific clinical difficulty around the delay.”