£1m will cut wait for cancer patients
EXTRA CASH: 12-week wait for radiotherapy treatment will be slashed to four
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.