£1m will cut wait for can­cer pa­tients

EX­TRA CASH: 12-week wait for ra­dio­ther­apy treat­ment will be slashed to four

Kentish Express Ashford & District - - FAMILY ALBUM -

WAIT­ING times for can­cer pa­tients need­ing ra­dio­ther­apy could be cut to as lit­tle as four weeks, thanks to a £1 mil­lion fund­ing boost.

The in­creased fund­ing for can­cer pa­tients was an­nounced by Kent’s three Pri­mary Care Trusts last Thurs­day fol­low­ing a re­view of fund­ing.

The re­view was prompted by con­sul­tant breast sur­geon Peter Jones, based at Maid­stone Hospi­tal, who spoke out about his fears that pa­tients were not re­ceiv­ing treat­ment quickly enough.

The West Kent, Med­way and East­ern PCTs say they will put an ex­tra £1 mil­lion a year into ra­dio­ther­apy ser­vices.

It will mean that by the end of this fi­nan­cial year (2007/8) pa­tients should be wait­ing four weeks in­stead of 12 for their ra­dio­ther­apy fol­low­ing surgery.

In Fe­bru­ary, Mr Jones claimed some pa­tients were wait­ing three months for ra­dio­ther­apy, fol­low­ing surgery for breast can­cer, when na­tional guide­lines rec­om­mended a max­i­mum wait of four weeks.

A clin­i­cally-led re­view car­ried out since then found ex­tra money should be put in to cut wait­ing times.

Pro­fes­sor Roger James, clin­i­cal di­rec­tor of the Kent On­col­ogy Cen­tre at Maid­stone Hospi­tal, said: “We’re de­lighted that our lo­cal PCTs have cho­sen to sup­port one of the most sig­nif­i­cant im­prove­ments in can­cer care for pa­tients in Kent and Med­way in re­cent years.

“We will be able to start ra­dio- ther­apy treat­ments much sooner af­ter surgery and chemo­ther­apy and pro­vide pa­tients with some of the very high­est lev­els of care avail­able na­tion­ally.”

Mr Jones said: “This is the news we’ve all been wait­ing for.

“Breast can­cer pa­tients and the pro­fes­sion­als in­volved in their care across the Kent Can­cer Net­work will be de­lighted with this won­der­ful news.”

Cur­rently, can­cer pa­tients start ra­dio­ther­apy within four weeks if that is their first treat­ment, but pa­tients who have surgery or other can­cer treat­ments must wait 12 weeks for ra­dio­ther­apy.

Pa­tients with breast, prostate, thy­roid and mouth can­cer are the most likely to ben­e­fit from the ex­tra fund­ing.

Speak­ing on be­half of the three PCTs, Med­way PCT chief ex­ec­u­tive Mar­ion Dinwoodie said: “Pa­tients were wait­ing up to five months to start their treat­ment just a few years ago, but soon no one will be wait­ing longer than four weeks for their ra­dio­ther­apy to be­gin.

“This is a ma­jor im­prove­ment in pa­tient care.”

The fund­ing in­cludes the cost of ex­tra staff and pa­tient trans­port.

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