Hospitals cancer backlog reduced, but treatment waiting list triples

United Lincolnshire Hospitals Trust has managed to cut a backlog of cancer patients following the relaxation of coronavirus lockdown.

However, the numbers of people waiting more than 18 weeks on a referral pathway have tripled since June.

Bosses say though that they expect the latter to “reduce significantly” in the coming months.

In June, around 200 people in the county who needed cancer treatment were left unaware of when they would be seen by doctors.

However, following the implementation of ULHT’s recovery plans, bosses were told on Tuesday that the majority of patients who had waited more than 103 days for diagnostic services had been seen.

A report before the trust’s board said that on July 9, there had been 163 patients in that category but by August 21 only 27 remained – and those had been seen in an outpatient setting.

Just 44 patients in total had been waiting over 104 days – including 17 new ones who had come on to the list since July 9.

Elsewhere, a list of 413 patients waiting more than 62 days for cancer treatment had hoped to be reduced by 20% to 330 by August 21, but instead reached 296 – a near 40% reduction.

Around 70% of those patients are waiting for colorectal procedures and ULHT bosses said a specific recovery plan would feed into that.

Simon Evans, Chief Operating Officer said: “Like most trusts across the country some of our patients have unfortunately had to wait longer for their treatment during the COVID-19 pandemic. For this we apologise.

“As part of the ‘recovery’ phase of the COVID-19 pandemic, we are now putting in place plans to restore the majority of our services, which will have a positive impact on our waiting lists.

He said further improvements would follow as the response evolved.

“We have had significant success in recovering our cancer and diagnostic capacity since the establishment of the Grantham ‘green’ site, and have therefore reduced the waiting lists for urgent and cancer diagnostic testing and surgery.

He said, however, the trust’s referral to treatment waiting list size had increased to 39,032 from 12,838 in June.

Mr Evans said “Although large [this] is an improved position than had been forecast at the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We expect this to reduce significantly in October as our recovery plans take hold.”

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