MORE than 1,400 people were urgently referred to Burton’s Queen’s Hospital with suspected cancer symptoms during the final three months of 2012, newly released figures have shown.
The Department of Health revealed there were 1,430 urgent referrals to the hospital made by GPs during the three-month period.
Of these patients, 1,372 — or 96 per cent — were seen by a cancer specialist within the two-week target period.
Fifty-eight were seen outside this two-week window and six patients even waited for longer than 28 days for their first hospital assessment by a cancer specialist.
Patients whom the hospital decides to treat for cancer should then receive their first treatment within 31 days.
Of the patients seen by Queen’s between October and December last year, this 31-day target was met on all but one occasion.
Fifty-two people were admitted for breast cancer treatment, 33 for lower gastro-intestinal cancer treatment, 14 for lung cancer treatment, 12 for skin cancer treatment, 15 for urological cancer treatment and 13 for treatment for other forms of the disease.
Failure to meet targets can be due to patient choice when offers of appointments within the target time period are declined by patients.
The NHS’s National Cancer Action Team said in a statement: “It is important that patients with suspected and diagnosed cancer have appointments, tests and treatments in a timely fashion both to improve their outcomes and their experience in the NHS.
“There are a number of specific pathways that have been introduced to support timely care for cancer and suspected cancer patients.”
Derby Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, which also serves a number of patients in Burton and South Derbyshire from its two hospital sites in Derby city, received 2,620 urgent referrals from GPs during the final three months of 2012. Of these, 2,523 patients — or 97 per cent — were seen by a specialist within two weeks.