Norfolk hospital has busiest ever A&E month as pressures continue

James Paget Hospital has recorded its busiest ever A&E month Picture: Nick Butcher

James Paget Hospital has recorded its busiest ever A&E month Picture: Nick Butcher - Credit: Nick Butcher

A Norfolk hospital recorded its busiest ever month in A&E as crucial targets on cancer performance and waiting times were missed.

New figures released by Gorleston's James Paget University Hospital reveal 7,762 people visited the emergency department in August - the highest number the trust has ever seen.

Meanwhile the percentage of cancer patients treated within 62 days of referral was down for the third month in a row, at 65.81pc.

The aim is for 85pc to be treated.

It saw the trust's performance ranked 139th out of 150 providers.

The report being presented to the hospital trust's board of directors on Friday September 27, details the experiences of 21 cancer patients whose treatment missed the target.

In some cases it was the patient's own choice to delay treatment because they needed more time to think about it or wanted a second opinion.

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In others the patients were not medically fit to proceed.

One patient waited 104 days - 30pc longer than the target - but the case was "complex" and multiple options needed to be explored.

The number of patients being seen within 18 weeks also dipped to 81.47pc, against a target of 92pc.

One plastic surgery patient waited over a year due to an "administrative error" breaching a "zero tolerance" 52 week target.

Overall the trust achieved 70pc of its measurable indicators in August.

James Paget University Hospital chief operating officer Joanne Segasby said: "The NHS nationwide continues to experience pressures and we have seen increased demand during July and August.

"Our staff have been working exceptionally hard to ensure our patients are treated in a timely manner, however figures in different areas will fluctuate from month to month across the year due to a variety of factors.

"There are numerous reasons why treatment is delayed and some of these are detailed in the report including patients making a choice to delay and the complex nature of some medical issues, which require multiple investigations first.

"We always aim to treat patients as quickly as we can, particularly those with more serious conditions such as cancer.

"We continue to work with partner organisations across the health and social care system to try to address issues facing the hospital, including increasing demand, and we are also working on a number of projects to improve, including enhancing existing services and facilities and working to boost recruitment."

Dr Chris Bushby, chief executive at Norfolk cancer charity Big C, said it was important that patients with a suspected cancer diagnosis received the care as soon as possible, in order to achieve the best outcomes and to minimise anxiety.

He added: "Where delays are experienced, for whatever reason, our expert staff based at Big C's Great Yarmouth centre in Regent Street and hub at the Louise Hamilton Centre on-site at James Paget Hospital in Gorleston are available to provide information and support at what can be a very worrying time."

Big C has a telephone support line on 0800 092 7640.