MEDICAL negligence solicitors, Blackwater Law have reviewed data published by NHS England that reveals that only 40.9% of patients at Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals NHS Trust were receiving treatment for cancer within the current 62-day waiting time during May 2020. This figure is significantly below the current NHS target of 85%.
There are multiple cancer waiting time targets set by the NHS in England, one of which is a 62-day waiting time. This means that patients should wait no more than 62 days from the initial urgent GP referral for suspected cancer through to the first definitive treatment for the cancer. The current target by the NHS is that 85% of patients should meet this timescale.
The data, which has been collated by Blackwater Law shows that during May 2020 only 40.9% of patients at Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals NHS Trust were being treated within this timescale, significantly below government target. This was also below the overall national average whereby 69.9% of patients met the target during the same month.
The data shows a significant decrease in the number of patients receiving treatment within the timescale compared to the previous year (71.2% in May 2019), no doubt due to the on-going coronavirus pandemic and resources being allocated to treating affected patients instead.
Commenting on the figures, Jason Brady, Partner & Head of Blackwater Law said: “It is concerning to see that such a small percentage of cancer patients were being treated within the current NHS 62-day timescale. Understandably, the Coronavirus pandemic has put a huge strain on NHS resources however, here at Blackwater Law we unfortunately see the impact of delays on patient outcomes and we wouldn’t want non-coronavirus patients to be indirectly affected due to the virus”.
Shelagh Smith, Chief Operating Officer, said:
“Like all other hospitals, Covid-19 has had an impact on the services we provide. At the height of the pandemic, we made significant and fast changes to our cancer treatments to protect our most vulnerable patients.
“We prioritised, according to clinical need, and we worked closely with private hospitals to reduce the risk of patients capturing the virus.
“As well as responding to Covid, we have suffered staff shortages and have faced particular challenges in our breast and skin cancer specialties where we have increased capacity and recruited additional staff to help deal with the backlogs.
“As a result, we saw record numbers of patients in these areas, in a month, when compared with a year ago.
“We are working with our primary care colleagues to encourage people to come to hospital.”