For the first time in more than five years, cancer services in Kent and Medway have hit the national target for the 62-day performance standard.
Cancer teams from the four hospital trusts in Kent and Medway made sure 85.6 per cent of their patients seen in December did not wait more than two months for cancer treatment, following an urgent referral from their GP.
This means the Kent and Medway Cancer Alliance is the second highest performing alliance in the country. This improvement comes just 18 months after cancer services in the county were consistently performing bottom in the country.
Ian Vousden, Programme Director for the Kent and Medway Cancer Alliance, said: “We are absolutely delighted at the news, because it means more people are receiving the essential care they need as quickly as possible.
“This result is due to the continual hard work and collaboration between all of our cancer services and comes hot on the heels of our October performance where Kent and Medway performed top in the country, seeing 84.8 per cent of patients. To now exceed that and meet the national standard is a testament to how we are working hard to improve cancer care.”
The improvements have been a result of several changes, particularly in how men with prostate cancer are being treated. Waiting times have been cut for prostate cancer patients by up to six weeks by introducing MRI scans before a biopsy so clinicians can specifically target the area that needs to be tested. This streamlined process is far more effective for both patients needing treatment and clinicians delivering care.
Dr Henry Taylor, Clinical Lead for the Kent and Medway Cancer Alliance, said: “Nationally, there has been a significant increase in referral numbers over the past 18 months and we were committed to meeting that challenge. More than 89 per cent of prostate patients are now treated within the 62 day target.
“Our next challenge is making sure we can sustain this performance every month. To do this we are now rolling out similar improvements that have elevated prostate care across other cancer pathways so all patients receive timely and appropriate care.”
Professor Sanjeev Madaan (pictured right), Consultant Urological Surgeon and Lead Cancer Clinician at Darent Valley Hospital said: “It has been a real partnership effort. Working closely with hospital colleagues, GPs, cancer clinicians and our commissioners, we were able to buy new equipment and introduce new roles to help patients move smoothly through the stages of identifying, diagnosing and treating cancer.”
The 62-day national standard is set to make sure at least 85 per cent of patients do not wait more than two months for cancer treatment, following an urgent referral from their GP.
Data on the 62-day cancer standard is reported monthly. The information is published two months after the reporting period so it can be nationally validated. The national standard for 62-day performance is 85% of patients to be seen within 62 days of urgent referral from GP.
The Kent and Medway Cancer Alliance brings together clinicians and managers from health, social care and other services to transform the diagnosis, treatment and care for cancer patients. These partnerships enable care to be more effectively planned across local cancer pathways. The alliance is funded by NHS England and aligned to the Kent and Medway Sustainability and Transformation Partnership.