Waiting times for cancer tests could be better at Morecambe Bay hospitals

Royal Lancaster Infirmary.
Royal Lancaster Infirmary.

Hospitals in Morecambe Bay including the Royal Lancaster Infirmary have missed their target for waiting times for bowel cancer tests.

According to a bowel cancer charity, 34 hospitals in the north of England and Yorkshire and the Humber do not meet the standrd of less than one per cent of patients waiting more than sixweeks for tests that could diagnose bowerl cancer.

In one hospital in the region, 54% per cent of patients are waiting beyond the six week waiting time target.

But in Morecambe Bay Foundation NHS Trust, despite missing their target, just 2,5% of patients waited longer than the recommended six week target for tests, which is low compared to other NHS Trusts.

The waiting times published by NHS England last week is further evidence that demand for diagnostic tests are outstripping capacity.

Many hospitals are at breaking point because they simply do not have the capacity to meet the growing demand for these services. A lack of funding, limited resources and a shortage of staff to carry out the number of procedures needed are contributing to this.

Jacqueline Pickles, Deputy Chief Operating Officer at, University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust, said: “In the 2016/17 financial year 2.5 percent of patients waiting for tests that could diagnose bowel cancer waited longer than the recommended six week target. Despite this being low compared to other NHS organisations the Trust is committed to reducing this further.

“In April 2015 UHMBT improved bowel cancer breach rates by implementing the Direct to Test Pathway, which means patients can be referred from their generalpractitioner (GP) straight to the hospital for screening. This helped the Trust achievethe low breach percentage.

“All patients are monitored to ensure that they receive a timely appointment.However fluctuations in the numbers of patients presenting for testing, and a small number of patients asking to postpone their appointments have an impact on achieving the target.”

Bowel cancer is the second biggest cancer killer but it shouldn’t be; it’s treatable and curable, especially if diagnosed early. Asha Kaur, Head of Policy & Campaigns at Bowel Cancer UK, says: “The Government must get to grips with tackling this problem. It is crucial urgent progress is made as increasing demand for services is putting hospitals under unprecedented pressure because they simply do not have the capacity to meet this demand.”