East and North Hertfordshire NHS Trust is continually failing to meet national standards for cancer waiting times

PUBLISHED: 07:01 21 November 2017 | UPDATED: 12:40 21 November 2017

The NHS trust which runs Stevenages Lister Hospital is continually failing to meet the national standard for cancer waiting times. Picture: East and North Herts NHS Trust.

The NHS trust which runs Stevenages Lister Hospital is continually failing to meet the national standard for cancer waiting times. Picture: East and North Herts NHS Trust.

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The NHS trust which runs Stevenage’s Lister Hospital is continually failing to meet the national standard for cancer waiting times.

The national standard is that 85 per cent of all patients with an urgent GP referral for suspected cancer must receive their first definitive treatment within 62 days.

The East and North Herts NHS Trust, which runs Lister, achieved just 69.3 per cent in 2016/17 and is currently running at 70 per cent this year.

At 48.3 per cent, urgent referral to treatment of colorectal cancer had the lowest percentage of patients being seen within the 62-day standard in 2016/17, closely followed by head and neck cancer at just 49.7 per cent.

Of the 10 tumour groups identified, the NHS trust missed the 85 per cent standard in eight of them last year, with just breast cancer and skin cancer surpassing the standard at 89.6 per cent and 91.4 per cent respectively.

A review is underway and cancer specialists the National Cancer Alliance, and the East and North Herts Clinical Commissioning Group, have been drafted in to work with the NHS trust to provide a sustainable solution.

Two additional oncologists have also been appointed at the NHS trust’s Mount Vernon Cancer Centre in Middlesex, who are engaging with personnel to develop the services being provided.

Nationally, the picture is much the same – with the majority of NHS trusts failing to meet their individual targets and the NHS as a whole failing to meet the waiting time standard for over a year.

NHS England says: “Achievement of the national cancer waiting times standards is considered by patients and the public to be an indicator of the quality of cancer diagnosis, treatment and care NHS organisations deliver.”

Trust chief executive Nick Carver said the NHS trust has historically achieved highly in this area and he anticipates a return to this status.

A spokesman for the NHS trust said: “For the most recent set of data available, which is for September 2017, the NHS trust saw nearly 79 per cent of cancer patients begin their treatment within the 62-day standard. This is our best performance in over a year.

“Our staff work very hard to make sure that patients with cancer get their treatment as quickly as possible. As can be seen from September’s data, this has resulted in real improvements in our performance over the last few months in particular.

“We now need to build on this improved position as we work towards delivering the 85 per cent national standard routinely.”

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