Epsom and St Helier Trust having ‘tough challenge’ meeting national waiting times 

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From January to March 2015 just 72.1% of people urgently referred to the trust started cancer treatment within the recommended 62 days

Epsom Hospital

Epsom Hospital

Epsom and St Helier Trust has admitted to having a ‘tough challenge’ in meeting the national target for treatment waiting times.

In February, one in six patients admitted for treatment at the trust waited longer than the target of 18 weeks, with 84.1% of patients treated, missing the 90% national target.

From December until March almost one third of cancer patients were waiting longer than the target 62 days for urgent treatment.

Head of performance at Surrey Downs Care and Commissioning Group Mable Wu said: “As commissioners, we want patients to have a good experience and that includes receiving treatment quickly.

“In some specialities, following a GP referral, patients can expect to receive treatment within just 18 weeks.

“As you would expect, we monitor how hospital trusts are performing against these targets very closely to ensure patients are being seen quickly.

“We are aware that Epsom and St Helier University Hospitals NHS Trust has faced some challenges in meeting the 18 week target and we continue to work closely with the trust to ensure performance in this area improves for local patients.”

“Overall, we are pleased to report that as a CCG we did meet our 18 weeks targets in 2014/15, which means that Surrey Downs patients are being seen within recommended times.

“Data shows 92% of inpatients were treated within 18 weeks and 95.7% of outpatients were treated within this time across all our health-care providers.”

The target for treating urgent cancer patients in England is also at its lowest level in six years.

Just 72.1% of people urgently referred to Epsom and St Helier Trust started cancer treatment within the recommended 62 days, in the three months to March missing the national target by 12.9%.

The trust feel they are making strides to improve their delivery of treatment within the target times.

A spokesman said: “During the last financial year a waiting list initiative was agreed with our regulators to ensure that all available capacity could be used to reduce the overall number of patients waiting over 18 weeks.

“From April 2015, we are committed to delivering the national standard and in April 90.4% of patients who needed to be admitted for their treatment were seen within the 18 week wait standard.

“We invested in additional senior management from staff with a track record of working with cancer services, to lead the work of improving cancer services and performance.

“We have now implemented a very thorough plan to ensure that we can meet the national cancer standards from May.

“This is a very tough challenge, but is one where considerable effort is being brought to bear, to ensure delivery of all national standards.”

The hospital trust also identified that a number of patients who breached the 62 day target were not clinically fit for surgery or a form of cancer treatment.

“An assessment of each patient is being made to determine when they are likely to be clinically fit for treatment, so that their surgery can be planned into subsequent months,” said the spokesman.

“Importantly, we have seen some significant increases in referrals to our cancer clinics.

“For example, the number of patients referred to our urology services under the two week rule has increased by 25% from 2011 to 2014, with the period of September to December 2014 showing an increase of 71%.”

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