Wigan's hospital trust: thousands of patients waiting for key diagnostic tests in March
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A health charity says poor NHS performance demonstrates the need for a workforce plan and greater funding across the health service.
NHS England figures show at the Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh Trust, 8,833 patients were waiting for one of 12 standard tests, such as an MRI scan, non-obstetric ultrasound or gastroscopy at this time.
Of them, 1,431 (16 per cent) had been waiting for at least six weeks.
Across England, 1.6 million patients in England were waiting for a key diagnostic test in March – the same as in February.
Saoirse Mallorie, senior analyst at the King’s Fund, a health charity, said: "This is yet another month of worrying statistics that show people not getting the standard of care they need, and yet another month waiting for the oft-promised and long-overdue workforce plan, which must have funding to underpin it."
"There also needs to be a shift in focus from receiving care in hospitals to care closer to home. This involves investing properly in primary and community care services, as well as social care reform and full engagement with the voluntary sector," she added.
Separate figures from NHS England show of 89 patients urgently referred by the NHS who were treated at the Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh Trust in March, 70 were receiving cancer treatment within two months of their referral.
A month previously – when 62 patients were referred – 49 were treated within 62 days.
In March 2022, 46 patients were treated within this period, out of 64 that were referred.
Some 260,308 urgent cancer referrals were made by GPs in England in March – but the proportion of cancer patients who saw a specialist within two weeks of being referred urgently by their GP fell from 86.1 per cent in February to 83.9 per cent in March, remaining below the 93 per cent target.
Professor Pat Price, co-founder of the #CatchUpWithCancer campaign, said: “These quarterly NHS cancer figures are the worst on record. They show despite the heroic efforts of the front-line staff, cancer patients are likely to continue to die from waiting as well as from cancer itself."
"Without extra treatment capacity and a dedicated cancer plan we will continue to condemn cancer patients to avoidable delays and lives will be lost unnecessarily," she added.
Other figures show 49,784 patients were waiting for non-urgent elective operations or treatment at Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh NHS Foundation Trust at the end of March – up from 48,255 in February, and 40,233 in March last year.
The median waiting time from referral at an NHS Trust to treatment at the Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh Trust was 15 weeks at the end of March – the same as in February.
Nationally, 7.3 million people were waiting to start treatment at the end of March.
A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: “The NHS has seen and treated record numbers of cancer patients over the last two years and in March nearly 92 per cent of patients started cancer treatment within one month."