Ipswich: Hospital misses waiting time targets

HEALTH chiefs have demanded an explanation after a hospital missed its cancer waiting time targets.

NHS Suffolk papers seen by the EADT show nearly 20% of patients at Ipswich Hospital were not treated within agreed limits during April.

Under NHS guidelines hospitals have to treat 85% of cancer patients within 62 days of being urgently referred by GPs.

But in April the hospital treated just 53 of 64 patients - or 82.8% - within the agreed limit, prompting Suffolk health bosses to intervene.

The hospital also breached targets for treating any patients with breast symptoms with two weeks. Its figures for April and May were 89.8% and 91.5%, against a target of 93%.

NHS Suffolk - who are set to discuss the issues at a board meeting in Kesgrave today - said the hospital took appropriate action and indications are that its figures recovered by June.

Suffolk health campaigner Prue Rush said: “These are distressing results for the staff and patients who are anxiously waiting for their treatments.

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“We want to know why it’s happening - is it seasonal circumstances or finances or staff problems?

“Even 85% is not a wonderful statistic if you’re in that 15%.

“The trouble is we’ve got these targets and in the good old days you got in line and waited your turn. But today we have got expectations that are higher but the Government is not providing hospitals with the wherewithal to keep to those standards.”

But Karen Hare, chief executive of the charity Cancer Campaign in Suffolk, said: “Over the year Ipswich Hospital do a great job.

“I think we’re very fortunate to have urology and radiotherapy at Ipswich Hospital, it’s second to none.”

A spokesperson for the Ipswich Hospital said: “We have an excellent track record in meeting national cancer access standards, and we are disappointed that we have not maintained this high standard during April and May of this year. We have put into place an action plan to address the issues we identified which led us to not achieve the 62-day target in April.”

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