Ipswich worst at breast cancer waits

IPSWICH Hospital is the worst in the country at treating breast cancer patients within a month of their diagnosis, new Government figures show.But last night hospital bosses said they had a strong track record in meeting cancer standards and had consistently achieved Whitehall-set objectives.

IPSWICH Hospital is the worst in the country at treating breast cancer patients within a month of their diagnosis, new Government figures show.

But last night hospital bosses said they had a strong track record in meeting cancer standards and had consistently achieved Whitehall-set objectives.

A Department of Health report compares hospital performance across the country for cancer waiting times.

It comes as the government will introduce a new target in 2008, which will mean all cancer patients will have to be seen within 31-days from “diagnosis to treatment”.

The latest report, released on Friday, monitors hospitals' progress towards the new target.

It shows Ipswich Hospital treated 91.4% of its 58 breast cancer patients within the month deadline during April to June this year.

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A total of five patients were seen after the 31-day wait target and all of these were seen within 48 days.

It is the worst performance in the country - with most trusts achieving a rate of 100%, including West Suffolk Hospital, James Paget Hospital, Essex Rivers Healthcare and Mid-Suffolk Hospital Services.

Meanwhile, for all types of cancer, Ipswich is the third worst hospital in the country, treating 97.4% of its 266 patients within the 31-day proposed target time.

West Suffolk Hospitals and James Paget Hospital achieved a standard of 100%, while Essex Rivers Healthcare and Mid-Essex Hospital Services hit a standard of 99.7%.

A spokeswoman for Ipswich Hospital said the trust had a strong track record of successful performance.

She said because the number of patients was relatively small any wait longer than 31-days could substantially skew the figures.

She said: “We have a very strong and successful track record in meeting cancer standards and consistently achieve the current national targets for waiting times.

“However, because of the very small number of patients involved it can skew the figures. If, for example, the patient has to be sent away for a scan that can only be done elsewhere then we will do so - this could mean the wait could be in excess of 31 days, but it is always in their best interest.

“We do everything we can to ensure we meet current targets and will strive to improve on that and exceed them in the future.”

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