NHS cancer teams across the county are celebrating the news they have topped the national table for their 62-day cancer performance.

The national standard is set to make sure patients do not wait more than two months for cancer treatment, following an urgent referral from their GP.

Cancer teams from the four hospital trusts in Kent and Medway made sure 84.8 per cent of their patients were seen within the 62-day standard in October 2019.

This incredible improvement comes just one year after Kent and Medway were consistently performing bottom in the country.

Ian Vousden, Programme Director for the Kent and Medway Cancer Alliance, said: “We are absolutely delighted at the news, because it means more people are receiving the essential care they need as quickly as possible. This result is due to the continual hard work and collaboration between all of our cancer services – it has been a real partnership effort to improve care for people across the county.

“Nationally, there has been a significant increase in referral numbers over the past 18 months and we were committed to meeting that challenge. Working closely with the hospital trusts, GPs, cancer clinicians and our commissioners, we were able to identify specific improvements, such as buying new equipment and introducing new roles to help patients move smoothly through the stages of identifying, diagnosing and treating cancer.

“In particular we have cut waiting times for prostate cancer patients by up to six weeks by introducing MRI scans before a biopsy so clinicians can specifically target the area that needs to be tested. This streamlined process is far more effective for both patients needing treatment and clinicians delivering care. More than 89 per cent of prostate patients are now seen within the 62 day target.

“While we are incredibly proud of this news, we know there is still a challenge ahead in making sure this performance can be improved so we are regularly meeting the national standard. To do this we are now rolling out similar improvements that have elevated prostate care across other cancer pathways so all patients receive timely and appropriate care.”

Data on the 62-day cancer standard is reported monthly. The information is published two months after the reporting period so it can be nationally validated. The national standard for 62-day performance is 85% of patients to be seen within 62 days of urgent referral from GP.

The Kent and Medway Cancer Alliance brings together clinicians and managers from health, social care and other services to transform the diagnosis, treatment and care for cancer patients. These partnerships enable care to be more effectively planned across local cancer pathways. The alliance is funded by NHS England and aligned to the Kent and Medway Sustainability and Transformation Partnership.

There are 19 cancer alliances across England. You can find out more about the Kent and Medway Cancer Alliance here: https://kentandmedway.nhs.uk/workstreams/cancer/

The four hospital trusts in Kent and Medway are: Dartford and Gravesham NHS Trust, East Kent Hospitals University NHS Foundation Trust, Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust and Medway Foundation Trust.