'Unprecedented' demand for cancer services at Russells Hall Hospital
Doctors at a Black Country hospital have been battling ‘unprecedented’ demand for cancer services.
Problems dealing with the amount of patients attending Russells Hall Hospital for cancer treatment has have been compounded by staff sickness.
The pressure has led to concern among health chiefs at the Dudley Group NHS Trust, which runs Russells Hall, with fears it could hamper its ability to meet key cancer targets.
One in five cancer patients did not start treatment within the 62-day target of being referred during April, the latest figures available.
Hospital bosses said they would look at expanding capacity to deal with cancer patients to try and ease pressure.
A report to board members said: “The trust had seen unprecedented demand for urology, breast and colorectal services.
“There were also issues with consultants’ illness, bereavement leave and specialist nurse absence.
“There were daily meetings with directorate managers and new daily reports produced. A meeting had taken place the previous day, chaired by the chief executive.
“This will be followed up in writing as the trust cannot fail the cancer target again. A number of key actions were being put in place.
"The chief operating officer confirmed that the trust was looking at what extra capacity could be provided to meet demand.”
Diane Wake, the chief executive of the trust, said: “Cancer services cover multiple specialties including breast, urology, lung and colorectal. We track our patients through the system to ensure patients with an urgent GP referral are seen within 14 days and that they receive treatment with 62 days of the referral.
“We meet weekly with our divisional teams and directorate managers, and we are working with our clinicians on extra capacity to cope with the unprecedented demand.
“We have implemented different types of reports and timelines to better track our performance.
“Our performance continues to be monitored.”
The trust is also struggling to meet A&E targets, the latest figures show. Just 77 per cent were seen within four hours during April, way below the 95 per cent national NHS standard.