We’ve just marked a whole year of delivering the NHS constitutional standard for cancer treatment times, ensuring that more than 85 per cent of all patients are starting treatment within 62 days of referral from their GP.
Ours is one of the busiest cancer services in the country, with just under 23,000 patients referred last year – an increase of nearly 10 per cent on the previous year.
Nationally, the last time the 62-day cancer target was hit was December 2015, and there has been a general standstill and decline of performance in many trusts across the country as they face increasing pressure, particularly for acute and emergency services.
Dr Sherif Raouf, our Divisional Director for Cancer and Clinical Services, said: “Everyone at the Trust can be very proud of this achievement. I’d like to thank them all for their fantastic effort. I’d also like to thank GPs across the community for the part they have played.
“Historically, cancer has been a real challenge for our community, and we have all struggled to provide the quality of service that we would want to. We have all worked really hard to make improvements for our patients.
“There’s a lot more to do, but it’s good to be able to say that we’re moving in the right direction – providing care more quickly, and to a consistently higher standard than ever before.”
In the last year, we’ve invested heavily in cutting edge radiotherapy technology, including the installation of the UK’s first Halcyon machine – a new system which delivers state-of-the-art cancer care, which is faster, more accurate and more comfortable for patients.
Sherif added: “To have the most up-to-date technology is important, but it’s also about the patient experience. The Halcyon system is allowing us to offer high quality, high speed, more accurate radiotherapy in a more patient-centred way. As we continue to install new machines this year, we will soon have one of the most up-to-date cancer centres in the NHS.”
We’ve also embraced other innovations, such as becoming one of the UK’s first Multi-Diagnostic Centres – providing a “one stop shop” with a full suite of diagnostics available for patients who are referred as a priority. We’ve had one of the highest detection rates of the trusts in this nationwide pilot, showing the value of this approach and the high prevalence of cancer in our community.
Karen Phillips, our Lead Cancer Nurse, said: “We’re so proud with this milestone. We know that for any patient who’s referred with suspected cancer, every day can feel like a lifetime and it’s a hugely anxious time. It’s also vitally important that for those patients with cancer, as an early diagnosis can make all the difference in their treatment.
“All our teams – from the first booking clerk, the clinical nurses, the managers and the consultants – are striving at every step to give our patients the best care possible.
“It’s a rare achievement and I’m so pleased we proved we could do it. Now we will keep pushing for the next 12 months and beyond that.”