Patients waiting weeks for vital test results from Basildon and Southend hospitals

Distraught cancer patients at Southend and Basildon hospitals are facing agonising waits for the results of crucial tests and biopsies, it has been revealed.

Kim James, chief executive of Healthwatch Thurrock, has pleaded for help for patients who are being kept in the dark about the extent of their conditions following operations and tests – with some not even sure if they have cancer.

Speaking at a Thurrock health and wellbeing overview and scrutiny meeting on Wednesday, Ms James said: “We have had a vast amount of patients in the last six weeks who are having real difficulties with services from the hospital. It seems to be gynae from Basildon that they are having a lot of problems with. People are put on two-week pathways and just never hearing again. They go for their appointments, they’re on a cancer pathway and they are still waiting weeks and weeks afterwards for some kind of feedback.

“We’ve also got the same problem with Southend. People who have been admitted, having surgery and being discharged not even knowing what grade their cancer is or if it was it cancer? They are not being referred back into community support.”

An IT issue was said to be preventing discharge letters reaching GP practices.

Ms James added: “I absolutely don’t know if it’s anything to do with that. The GPs are struggling to find out anything for the patients as well, but some of them are really serious and some of them are a major concern and we just cannot get any answers the same as the patients can’t.

“We’ve got patients sitting out there who have had biopsies done in November and they have no idea whether they had cancer, whether they is any more service for them.”

Aleksandra Mecan, NHS Thurrock Alliance Director, said: “We went one by one through individual cases and allocated respective action so we are speaking to clinicians. We have spoken to the hospital so this is being actioned  and we also have some formal complaints due to the process failures.”

Mark Hooper, chairman of the committee, called from Ms Mecan to report back to the committee on the issue. He said: “I’m really concerned that we don’t repeat this and that if there is system failure then it’s picked up and responded to. This is quite concerning.”

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Christine Sexton

Local Democracy Reporter