Northampton hospital urges patients to pick treatment over commitments as NHS faces worst cancer figures on record

The NHS is facing the worst figures on record for treating cancer patients within 62 days.
The NHS is facing the worst figures on record for treating cancer patients within 62 days.

Northampton General Hospital is urging patients to choose treatments over commitments in the face of the 'worst' national NHS figures on record for treating cancer.

National figures suggest the NHS is on course for its worst annual targets for cancer treatment waiting times record.

The NHS aims to have patients into hospital for their first treatments within 62 days of first-referral by their GP. Hospitals aim to have 85 per cent of patients treated in this time.

However, national figures suggest only 77 per cent of patients nationwide were treated to this standard between April and September - amounting to some 133,843 patients in that time.

Between July 2017 July 2018 and at Northampton General Hospital, this target was only met four months in that timeframe.

Although this was largely in keeping with national figures, it meant on average one-in-five patients were not treated within 62 days in that time period.

A spokeswoman for Northampton General Hospital said: "We are diagnosing and treating more people than ever before for cancer against a backdrop of a national shortage of specialists needed to deliver treatment plans.

"Some of the challenges we have in meeting the targets are around patient choice.

"Diagnosis and treatment can happen very quickly and sometimes patients can feel overwhelmed by the pace, and in other cases, they don’t want to let colleagues or family down by cancelling pre-arranged commitments.

"We recognise how difficult this time can be for our patients and we give them as much support as possible while reiterating the need for us to act swiftly where cancer is suspected or confirmed."

The hospital claims it has met five of the nine cancer waiting times standards in October this year, but this is yet to be fully validated.

It comes after the hospital last month open an emergency assessment unit for oncology patients and a new chemotherapy suite last year.

The spokeswoman said: "The results of the National Cancer Patient Experience Survey published in 2017 shows improvements in patient experience at NGH; 437 patients (68 per cent) responded and for the first time since the survey began six years ago, we are in line with the national average for overall cancer experience."