More than half of cancer patients not seen quickly enough at King George and Queen’s hospitals in May

Less than half of cancer patients at King George Hospital and Queen’s Hospital’s NHS trust were treated fast enough in May.

NHS figures show only 40.9 per cent of patients at Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals were seen within the target of 62 days.

It is expected that at least 85 per cent of patients wait no more than 62 days from their urgent GP referral until their first definitive treatment for cancer.

May’s figure dropped sharply compared to this time last year but also reduced over the course of the coronavirus pandemic, with 56.7 per cent of patients seen within the target time in April.

Jason Brady, partner at medical negligence firm Blackwater Law, said: “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”.

The trust’s chief operating officer, Shelagh Smith, explained that the trust had suffered not only from the pandemic but also from staff shortages.

She 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”.

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Victoria Munro

Local Democracy Reporter