Northumberland hospital trust's cancer treatment record during virus crisis

Over a dozen patients with urological cancers missed the two-month target time for hospital treatment in Northumberland at the height of the coronavirus crisis, new figures show.

NHS England figures show 64 out of 77 patients at Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust started treatment within the target time of 62 days of an urgent GP referral between April and July.

This means 82% of patients at the Trust - which runs the Northumbria Specialist Emergency Care Hospital in Cramlington - were treated within two months, below the national target of 85%.

The figure was up on last year’s 62%.

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Urological cancers includes patients with prostate, bladder, kidney and penile cancers.

The Trust achieved 88% of all cancer patients receiving their first treatment within 62 days in July – compared to the national average of 78%.

Prostate Cancer UK said it is critical that men most at risk of their cancer progressing are prioritised for treatment while NHS services work to restore their normal service.

Karen Stalbow, head of policy at the charity, said: “It’s good news that waiting times for urological referrals are beginning to recover.

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“We know that clinicians now need to balance a man’s prostate cancer risk with his risk of contracting Covid-19. Cancer services are also operating at reduced capacity because of the need to socially distance patients.”

Sara Bainbridge, head of policy at Macmillan Cancer Support, said the charity fears a "worrying backlog" of patients is building up.

She said: “Behind each statistic is a real person whose prognosis and treatment options could be severely impacted by disruption during Covid-19.

"It's vital that people see their GP if they have symptoms, and anyone who is worried about cancer needs to know that they'll be seen promptly and safely."

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An NHS spokeswoman said: “Hospitals have successfully treated nearly 38,000 men for urological cancer since the beginning of the pandemic, and more people are now coming forward for a cancer check, with 100,000 extra referrals in July compared to April.

"The key point remains that anyone worried about a possible symptom should contact their GP to get checked.”