NHS Trust Hospitals in the United Kingdom are currently failing to hit their required times for cancer referrals and could have worrying consequences for patients waiting for appointments. This comes as figures show seven in 10 NHS trusts are currently failing to hit their key targets. The amount of NHS trusts currently missing the national target for urgent cancer referrals is the highest it has been for around three years according to sources from the NHS. In England, the usual waiting time for a hospital appointment for people with suspected cancer is two weeks from the day the hospital receives a referral letter from the appointed GP. Analysis from the NHS shows that 93% of patients should be seen within 14 days. However analysis by the PA news agency of data going back to the period between August 2019 and August 2022 shows that this target is being missed on a regular basis with patients now at greater risk of worse conclusions.
Minesh Patel, the head of policy at Macmillan Cancer Support stated:
“There are huge pressures even at that early stage of the cancer pathway, let alone when you get to treatment, and it is really worrying for somebody’s prognosis.
“If somebody starts treatment later, the more worrying the outcome could be in terms of their ability to survive their cancer, to have minimal after-effects after a treatment. This is about survival and giving people the best chance and improving their quality of life, ultimately.”
The data came from 117 trusts in England for which complete data accounts for the last three years. The average from the last 12 months on the amount of trusts not reaching their target at the moment is at 84 out of 117 which is the highest over the period. There are three trust hospitals which did not reach their target at all over the previous three years. These include trust hospitals in Birmingham, Newcastle Upon Tyne, and North Middlesex.
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Meanwhile the same analysis found that the best performing trust hospitals were in Calderdale and Huddersfield, East Kent university trust, and Portsmouth hospitals university. All of these hospitals were on target with an operational standard of 93%. The Medway trust consistently hits its target going back to May 2020 whilst Birmingham women’s and children’s trust has been on target since August 2020.
These results of poorly performing trust hospitals could possibly affect millions of people within the United Kingdom who desperately need to book appointments regarding their health and wellbeing in the future.