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Around half of Whipps patients wait too long after ‘urgent’ cancer referral

Around half of suspected cancer patients urgently referred to Whipps wait more than two months to be seen

By Josh Mellor, Local Democracy Reporter

Whipps Cross University Hospital in Leytonstone

Approximately half of patients urgently referred to Whipps Cross Hospital with suspected cancer are waiting too long to be seen, according to NHS targets.

The hospital is one of five in East London run by Barts Health NHS Trust, which is falling behind target when it comes to dealing with urgent GP cancer referrals, which the NHS states should be dealt with within two months.

Figures from December last year showed that Whipps Cross Hospital saw only 54% of patients within two months of their urgent referral, well below the NHS target of at least 85%.

Overall the trust is fighting to reduce a backlog of 378 urgent GP referrals across its hospitals and, at a board meeting yesterday, vice-chair Adam Sharples acknowledged its performance in this area is “weaker” than it should be.


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According to the trust’s performance report, NHS England has told all trusts they must cut their backlog of outstanding urgent referrals to a maximum of 197 this month.

The majority of patients in Barts’ backlog have been waiting for less than three and a half months, although 82 have been waiting even longer.

Figures published by NHS England show, that in the first year of the pandemic, Barts Health managed to start treatment for more than eight in ten patients within the two-month target after their urgent referral.

However, this performance began to fall in mid-2021 and the trust now ranks 26th out of 141 trusts that publish this performance target.

Barts Health also runs Newham, Mile End, St Bartholomew’s, Whipps Cross and The Royal London hospitals.


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