Leeds ‘will not meet’ national breast cancer target in the near future, health chiefs claim

Leeds St James's Hospital.
Leeds St James's Hospital.
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A national target of giving breast cancer patients treatment within 62 days of a GP referral in Leeds is “not going to be met” in the near future, according to health chiefs.

Sue Robins, director of commissioning at NHS Leeds West Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), told Leeds City Council’s health scrutiny board yesterday that patients referred to Leeds from elsewhere in Yorkshire are the most affected.

It follows a CCG report stating that in the quarter to September neither the 62-day target or the two-week target for being seen by specialists after a referral are being met in Leeds.

But Ms Robins told the board that at Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust (LTH) the 62-day referral to treatment target for 85 per cent of women with breast cancer was being met for Leeds residents – although the regional picture differed.

She said: “In the short to medium term that is not going to be met [overall] because of the way referrals come through to Leeds as a large regional centre.”

Angie Craig, from LTH, said the issue in wider Yorkshire is that women are often referred late by GPs to Leeds specialists – with 12 to 20 per cent reaching LTH after 62 days.

Meanwhile the two-week target, in which 93 per cent of patients need to be seen within a fortnight, has dipped below standard to 85.2 per cent due to “substantial growth in demand not yet sustainably matched with capacity”. Breast cancer referrals to LTH have risen by over 60 per cent since 2012/13.

Coun Peter Gruen, scrutiny board chair, said: “There are some very worried people who get their diagnosis at the beginning and we should be doing everything we possibly can to shorten the time between referral and treatment.”

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