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Spine tumour man waited more than 100 days for cancer treatment plan amid 'hidden crisis'

PUBLISHED: 10:18 04 June 2019 | UPDATED: 11:12 04 June 2019

Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital. Photo: Nick Butcher

Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital. Photo: Nick Butcher

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A Norwich man has had to wait more than 100 days to start cancer treatment amid what leaders are calling a "hidden crisis" in waiting times.

BMA council chairman, Dr Chaand Nagpaul. Photo: BMABMA council chairman, Dr Chaand Nagpaul. Photo: BMA

It was revealed last month that more than a quarter of cancer patients in Norfolk had to wait more than two months for their first treatment, despite the national target being for 85pc of patients to be seen within 62 days.

Gordon Millar, 66, is one of those who has had to wait after he was told he had a tumour on his spine on February 23 - but was only given a treatment plan on Thursday last week.

Mr Millar, of Prince Andrews Road, went to his GP on February 22, and was referred for an MRI scan at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital (NNUH) and given his diagnosis within two weeks.

But he said after finally receiving his treatment plan: "When you think the 22nd of February is almost 15 weeks away, I think it's terrible."

Matt Keeling NNUH cancer manager. Photo: Kieron TovellMatt Keeling NNUH cancer manager. Photo: Kieron Tovell

The British Medical Association (BMA) said last month that between December and February 26.7pc of patients across Norfolk's three hospitals were "left in limbo" waiting for treatment.

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BMA council chairman Dr Chaand Nagpaul said: "Forcing a patient to wait two months for their first cancer treatment is shameful for a leading nation and as a doctor I can imagine only too well the distress this will cause to them and their families. It also places stress on the clinicians who treat them as they are well aware that the cancer may have worsened during the delay between referral and treatment."

Mr Millar, who cares for his wife Denise who has MS, said: "Every time I've had to see someone, because I've been changed from oncology, to haematology, to urology, every time you see someone it's a two-week wait. Whatever it is they need to do, it's a two-week wait.

"For a life-threatening disease, which is what I'm suffering from, I just don't think it's good enough."

Matt Keeling, NNUH cancer services manager, said: "Our sympathies go out to Mr Millar and we wish him all the best for his ongoing treatment. Because of the complexities of his condition and the need to see different specialists and have diagnostic tests, Mr Millar now has a treatment plan. We appreciate that the waiting between appointments is frustrating and we have apologised to him for the wait."

"With more than 2,000 referrals a month for suspected cancers and more than 400 new cancers being diagnosed each month, our cancer services are dealing with record demand and our staff are working hard to treat patients as quickly as possible.

"We have a comprehensive plan in place to reduce waiting times for patients and we are working closely with our partners from the Norfolk and Waveney STP.

"We are increasing capacity at the NNUH with the development of a new interventional radiology unit, which will open to patients next year, and we will be increasing cancer diagnostic and treatment capacity with the planned building of the North Norfolk Macmillan Centre at Cromer Hospital."

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