Bedfordshire Hospitals Trust: all the key numbers for the NHS Trust in March
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Almost 20,000 patients were waiting for a key diagnostic test at Bedfordshire Hospitals Trust in March, figures show.
A health charity says poor NHS performance demonstrates the need for a workforce plan and greater funding across the health service.
NHS England figures show at Bedfordshire Hospitals Trust, 18,925 patients were waiting for one of 13 standard tests, such as an MRI scan, non-obstetric ultrasound or gastroscopy at this time.
Of those 6,406 (34%) had been waiting for at least six weeks.
Across England, 1.6 million patients in England were waiting for a key diagnostic test in March – the same as in February.
Saoirse Mallorie, senior analyst at the King’s Fund, a health charity, said: "This is yet another month of worrying statistics that show people not getting the standard of care they need, and yet another month waiting for the oft-promised and long-overdue workforce plan, which must have funding to underpin it.
"There also needs to be a shift in focus from receiving care in hospitals to care closer to home. This involves investing properly in primary and community care services, as well as social care reform and full engagement with the voluntary sector," she added.
Separate figures show cancer patients at Bedfordshire Hospitals Trust are not being seen quickly enough.
The NHS states 85% of cancer patients urgently referred by a GP should start treatment within 62 days.
But NHS England data shows just 62% of patients urgently referred by the NHS who received cancer treatment at Bedfordshire Hospitals Trust in March began treatment within two months of their referral.
That was up from 57% in February, but down from 72% in March 2022 last year.
Some 260,308 urgent cancer referrals were made by GPs in England in March – but the proportion of cancer patients who saw a specialist within two weeks of being referred urgently by their GP fell from 86.1% in February to 83.9% in March, remaining below the 93% target.
Professor Pat Price, co-founder of the #CatchUpWithCancer campaign, said: “These quarterly NHS cancer figures are the worst on record. They show despite the heroic efforts of the front-line staff, cancer patients are likely to continue to die from waiting as well as from cancer itself."
Other figures show 89,195 patients were waiting for non-urgent elective operations or treatment at Bedfordshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust at the end of March – up from 87,445 in February, and 74,616 in March last year.
The median waiting time from referral at an NHS Trust to treatment at Bedfordshire Hospitals Trust was 16 weeks at the end of March – the same as in February.
Nationally, 7.3 million people were waiting to start treatment at the end of March.
A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: “The NHS has seen and treated record numbers of cancer patients over the last two years and in March nearly 92% of patients started cancer treatment within one month."
"Cancer is being diagnosed at an earlier stage more often, with survival rates improving across almost all types of cancer and NHS England continues to actively support those trusts requiring the greatest help to cut hospital waiting lists, which is a top priority for government," they added.