Graphic: Norfolk & Norwich University Hospital misses a key cancer target

General view of the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital at Colney; April 2009; NNUH / Hospital /

General view of the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital at Colney; April 2009; NNUH / Hospital / Colney / Parking / A & E; Picture: James Bass; Copy: Rebecca Gough; For: EN News; Evening News © 2009 (01603) 772434 - Credit: Evening News © 2009

Click here to view the graphicThe region's biggest hospital is continuing to miss key cancer treatment targets, but death rates from the disease have fallen everywhere in Norfolk – apart from Great Yarmouth.

The Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital (N&N) missed the NHS cancer target of treating at least 85pc of patients within two months after an urgent referral from a GP.

The region's biggest hospital treated 72.4pc of patients within the target time from July to September, according to figures released by NHS England.

That was not only below target, but down from 75.2pc on the previous quarter of the year.

The James Paget University Hospital in Gorleston and Queen Elizabeth Hospital in King's Lynn were both on the 85pc target. West Suffolk Hospital was slightly below at 83.9pc.

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However, all three hospitals treat fewer patients than the N&N, which has seen the number of cancer referrals rise from 11,000 in 2008/09 to 17,384 in 2013/14. An N&N spokesman said: 'Our cancer service is the largest service in the region by some way. We also treat a number of complex patients from the whole region, so it is quite difficult to make comparisons between hospitals.

'Our more complex patients require extended operating theatre time and their surgery often involves several different theatre teams.

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'This means we have had to increase the operating time allocated to this group of patients as well as scheduling staff with the right skills and experience to deliver this highly specialised care.'

In May the N&N increased capacity for treating cancer by 25pc with the opening of a new radiotherapy centre, called the Winterton Unit.

Less than half of health providers achieved the target, according to the figures.

There was better news for Norwich on cancer death rates for under-75s which fell by 27pc in the city between 2003 and 2013, a separate set of data published on Thursday showed. That was the fastest fall in Norfolk.

Great Yarmouth was one of the few areas of the country where the death rate increased, showing a six per cent rise and placing its death rate figure far above everywhere else in the county. It has the 17th highest death rate for cancer in the whole of England.

Nikki Morris, head of clinical services for cancer charity Big C, said: 'We know in Yarmouth there are areas of deprivation. It is exactly why we wanted to invest in Yarmouth. We want equality of access to services and we want to work with the community.'

But years of research appear to be having a major impact on cancer survival rates nationwide.

The death rate for people under 75 from cancer fell by 14.7pc over the ten years, according to the figures published by the Health and Social Care Information Centre.

The death rate from cancer among under-75s fell in 298 areas and rose in 24, including Great Yarmouth.

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