NHS resources strained as cancer referral times miss targets

By Gary Adair

Healthcare waiting time targets are at the forefront of debate once again after new figures have revealed that 200 patients were not seen by a breast cancer referral within the Department of Health’s 14-day referral target.

The statistics show that 86% of patients referred to a breast cancer specialist were seen within two weeks, a marked decreased from the 98% figure reported in February. In March of last year, every referred patient was seen within the target time.

Stretched resources and “staffing gaps” were blamed for this drop of in appointment availability, as staff and departments endeavour to provide quality care to more patients while working with fewer resources.  

A statement from the Department of Health reiterated that staff shortages were a significant part of the problem, and announced that it would be launching a public consultation on reforming breast cancer assessment care provisions. One proposal involves consolidating existing services into fewer locations, thus optimising the potential for quality care using existing staffing numbers and resources.

A delay in treatment can have significant consequences depending on the severity of the illness.  Unfortunately, there will be patients whose options for treatment and chances of recovery reduce considerably as a result of delays in being seen or treated. They may find that their condition has worsened considerably as a result, and the impact on their day-to-day life may be seriously and permanently affected.

If you have experienced a significant delay in treatment, or received a quality of care that fell well below an acceptable standard, and want to speak to a medical negligence solicitor in Northern Ireland contact one of the claims specialists at Wilson Nesbitt by clicking here.