Hospitals operated by Medway NHS Foundation Trust are, according to NHS England statistics, the worst performing hospitals in England for the number of suspected cancer patients not being seen by a cancer specialist within the critical 14 day target period.
From April through to June, of the 3,895 suspected cancer sufferers urgently referred by their GP, a staggering 1,085 were not seen by a specialist within the 14 day target set by the NHS. Under NHS guidelines, Trusts have a target to ensure at least 93% of patients urgently referred with suspected cancer are seen by a specialist within two weeks. Between April and June of this year, hospitals under Medway NHS Foundation Trust saw only 72.14% of patients within two weeks, making it the worst performing trust in the UK, for the second consecutive quarterly period.
The 14 day period exists due to the impact delays in diagnosis can have on the potential effectiveness of cancer treatment. According to Cancer Research UK, where patients are diagnosed with cancer in its earliest stages, as many as 90% of patients can expect to live for five years or more, depending on the type of cancer. This compares to 15% in some cases where the same type of cancer is diagnosed in its latter stages.
These latest figures show that the hospital’s performance has continued to deteriorate since it reported back in April that it saw just 85.4% of patients within the 14 day critical period.
Jason Brady, a specialist medical negligence solicitor at national law firm Blackwater Law, said: “Medway NHS Foundation Trust appears at present not to be meeting this target for is cancer services. It is hugely concerning to see the significant drop in performance against this crucial target in just 6 months. From 94.7% of patients seen within 14 days, to just 72.14% will be of concern to patients and their families.
“Hospitals should take every step possible to meet this target to avoid delays in cancer diagnosis and treatment for some patients. Where these delays are unnecessary and where the patient’s health is impacted, these individuals may be entitled to sue to the hospital for clinical negligence.”
Where there have been unnecessary or unreasonable delays in cancer diagnosis or treatment, and this has caused the eventual treatment to be less effective, the patient may be entitled to clinical negligence compensation.