Snow to blame for delays in cancer treatment

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Missed targets for treating cancer patients in Wakefield has been blamed on snow.

The Mid Yorkshire NHS Hospitals Trust, which runs Pinderfields, Pontefract and Dewsbury hospitals, said that a large number of appointments had to be rescheduled in the early part of 2018 because of the wintry weather.

The health service is supposed to start treatment for those suspected of having the disease within 62 days of an urgent GP referral. Government targets require 85 per cent of patients to be seen within this timeframe.

In February, just over 76 per cent of those referred to the trust’s cancer units were seen on time. The target was also missed, albeit only narrowly, in January.

At a meeting of the trust board on Thursday, chief operating officer Trudie Davies said: “NHS trusts across the board suffered from this problem and it was because of the snow.

“I know that might sound strange now, but in one day in February we had 14 women booked in for breast clinic appointments. 13 of them weren’t able to make it in.

“When we re-booked with them, their new times took it over the 62 days (threshold).”

Ms Davies said that government awareness campaigns around some types of cancers caused spikes in the number of people seeking medical help, meaning that hitting the same punctuality levels all year round was difficult.

She said: “We experience a lot of fluctuations in demand for cancer treatement. It’s very different every single month.

“When patients cancel appointments we book them into the next available slot. We don’t bounce other patients on, like other trusts.

“With the waiting list we’ve got at the moment, meeting those targets is challenging.”

David Spereall , Local Democracy Reporting Service