Trust under fire after missing cancer targets - The Worcester Observer

Trust under fire after missing cancer targets

Worcester Editorial 26th Apr, 2017   0

A LEADING charity has hit out at the local health trust for failing to meet government targets for tackling bowel cancer.

Bowel Cancer UK flagged up Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust (WAHT) which has 13 per cent of patients waiting longer than six weeks for tests that could diagnose bowel cancer. The NHS standard is less than one per cent.

WAHT is not alone – in all 21 hospitals in the Midlands and East of England do not meet this standard with one trust, Southend University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, having 38 per cent of patients waiting longer than six weeks.

The two key tests to diagnose bowel cancer are colonoscopy and flexible sigmoidoscopy – a camera on a thin, flexible cable inserted through the anus to look at different parts of the bowel. These procedures as known as endoscopies.

More than 15,900 people die from bowel cancer every year in the UK; it’s the nation’s second biggest cancer killer and the fourth most common cancer.

These tests can detect cancer at the earliest stage of the disease, when it is more treatable, and even prevent cancer through the removal of pre-cancerous growths (polyps).

Nearly everyone diagnosed at the earliest stage of bowel cancer will survive but this drops significantly as the disease develops.

Bowel Cancer UK says increasing demand for these tests and a lack of capacity in hospitals is the root cause of long waiting times.

Asha Kaur from the charity said: “These figures are very disappointing. Given the wide ranging impact that increasing demand and a lack of capacity is having on the ability to provide timely access to tests that can diagnose bowel cancer, the case for urgent investment is clear.”

A WAHT spokesperson said: “We apologise to patients who are waiting longer than expected. The increased waiting times are due to an increase in demand of 13.5 per cent between 2015/16 and 2016/17.

“We are working hard to maximise our capacity to make sure all endoscopy appointments are used. In addition, we have been working with the Independent Sector for some months and will continue to offer patients the choice of having their scope in the private sector.”


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