Cancer patient waiting times at NGH meet and exceed national targets

Northampton General Hospital met all its nine cancer targets during December 2017, ensuring that all patients were seen and treated within the national waiting time standards.

Wednesday, 31st January 2018, 12:13 pm
Updated Wednesday, 31st January 2018, 1:42 pm

A report to the hospital's public trust board states that nearly 100 per cent of new cancer patients cared for by the hospital received treatment for their disease within 31 days of being told they need medical or surgical intervention.

During October, November and December 2017 96.6 per cent of patients had their first treatment - which in some cases is surgery - within one month of being told they had cancer, above the national target of 96 per cent.

The majority of patients requiring second or subsequent radiotherapy, drugs or surgery received their treatment within 31 days.

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And figures for November show in that month the hospital recorded a perfect score in terms of patients needing second or subsequent surgery, with 100 per cent being treated in less than 31 days.

The data shows that 98.7 per cent of patients requiring follow-up drug treatment, such as chemotherapy, after an initial operation for cancer also had to wait less than a month.

These positive results follow a successful October and November when the hospital showed steady improvement on reducing waiting times for cancer care and treatment.

Deborah Needham, chief operating officer and deputy CEO, said the improvements and positive numbers could be attributed to several factors, including the hospital’s dedicated surgical, medical and oncology teams.

She said: "Many of our staff have worked here for years and they have excellent knowledge of their specialist area.

"This provides our patients with a degree of continuity that isn’t always found in other hospitals.

"We have access to cutting-edge technology, and our patient tracking system tells us at a glance how long a patient has been waiting for treatment.

"We can see when a patient is close to breaching their waiting time and, in those cases, our teams will go above and beyond to get that person the treatment they need as quickly as possible."

Mrs Needham added: "Waiting for cancer treatment is a worrying, stressful and often scary period of time for any person. By giving our patients the drugs and surgery they need as soon as possible, we can help to relieve some of that inevitable anxiety.

"But we need our patients to play their part as well by working with us when we offer appointments that ensure we see them as quickly as possible during the course of assessment and treatment, including within two weeks of their GP referral.

"All of our staff, from consultants and nurses to office workers and secretaries, are 100 per cent dedicated to ensuring that each patient receives the best possible outcome and will do their best to accommodate our patients’ appointment requests.

"Some patients wish to defer or delay this appointment, but it is vital for their diagnosis, treatment and care that they are seen as soon as possible.”

Last year, nearly 997 patients had initial treatment for cancer at NGH, equivalent to around 83 people each month.