Over half of NHS groups failing cancer patients in Yorkshire

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More than half of NHS groups in Yorkshire are failing cancer patients when it comes to diagnosis and treatment, new ratings show.

Data from NHS England reveals that 14 of the 22 clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) in the region are performing poorly when it comes to diagnosing patients quickly, ensuring they get prompt treatment and boosting one-year survival rates.

The figures shed light on stark differences in the quality of care across the country, with just 22 CCGs achieving the two highest ratings of “top performing” or “performing well”.

Nationally, one in nine of the groups was rated as “need improvement” or “greatest need for improvement.”

Three CCGs in Yorkshire fall into the lowest category – North Kirklees. Bradford City and Doncaster.

And a further 11 in the region are among the 156 nationally in need of improvement.

They were Wakefield, Calderdale, Leeds South and East, Barnsley, East Riding of Yorkshire, Greater Huddersfield, Hull, North Lincolnshire, North East Lincolnshire, Rotherham, Scarborough and Ryedale.

Dr Fran Woodard, executive director of policy and impact at Macmillan Cancer Support, said: “The fact that so many CCGs in England have been identified as providing inadequate care to cancer patients, or requiring improvements in this area, is very concerning.

“It highlights just how much the NHS is struggling to meet the challenge of delivering cancer services which meet all the critical needs of people with cancer.”

In some areas, only one in three patients get an early diagnosis – half the figure for the best performing area. Almost half of patients in one area do not get their first treatment for cancer in a timely manner.

In other areas, thousands of cancer patients are dying too early owing to poor care on the NHS.

CCGs control millions of pounds of NHS money and their role is to commission health services for the good of local populations.

But the data show that of the 209 CCGs nationally, only 14 per cent were “performing well” and a further seven were “top performing”.

Three of the seven highest rated are in Yorkshire – Harrogate and Rural; Leeds North, and Vale of York.

The remaining five CCGs in the region are rated as “performing well”. They are Airedale, Wharfedale and Craven; Bradford District; Hambleton, Richmondshire and Whitby; Leeds West, and Sheffield.

Key factors in the ratings are early diagnosis, one-year survival, 62 day waits after referral and overall patient experience. In the last two years, the national target to start treatment within 62 days has only been met once, with 2,000 cancer patients waiting longer to start treatment.

An NHS England spokesman said: “NHS cancer patients’ care is now the best it’s ever been, but we’ve set stretching goals to save thousands more lives by 2020.

“Measured against this ambition, it’s not surprising that most local services need to make further improvements, but we’re going to track progress transparently so everyone can see how we are improving care and outcomes for patients.” A cancer taskforce report in July 2015 made 96 recommendations, including the creation of Cancer Alliances to to drive improvement in cancer outcomes including reducing variation and promoting the sharing of best practice. The taskforce estimated that required costs of implementing the whole cancer strategy would be between £700m and £1.4bn over five years.