Published: 21/10/2017 13:00 - Updated: 20/10/2017 11:39

NHS Highland has 'particular pressures' on targets

Written byIain Ramage

NHS HighlandNHS Highland is promising extra cancer clinics after it failed to achieve national treatment target times for both that and planned surgical operations.

New research has revealed that, between April and June, 83.4 per cent of Highland cancer patients were seen within 62 days.

This compared with a national figure of 86.9 percent but still fell short of a national target of 95 per cent.

According to a UK-wide NHS online “tracker”, the board’s figures for A&E also improved on a year ago, with 96.7 per cent of patients treated or admitted within four hours.

This was ahead of a 95 per cent target and 0.5 per cent up on the board’s own performance for the same month last year.

Figures for planned operations such as knee and hip procedures failed to hit the mark though, with 82 per cent of patients treated within 18 weeks, against a target of 90 percent.

A spokeswoman for NHS Highland said: “Unfortunately, performance against the 62-day standard – which measures the waiting time for treatment start for patients referred with a suspicion of cancer – continues to challenge all boards in Scotland.

“Within Highland, we have particular pressures in meeting the targets within urology and colorectal. Urology, in particular, is a problem for most boards.

“We’re continuing to work with national colleagues to improve matters and have agreed a number of actions but these will take time to implement.”

NHS Highland is establishing extra clinics and theatre sessions “as often as possible” and recently appointed an additional urology nurse specialist.

Dedicated clinic accommodation will be available next month.

Health boards in England, Wales and Northern Ireland failed to hit any of the three key targets in 18 months while Scotland hit its A&E target three times in the past year.

NHS Highland said last month it does not expect to break even this financial year, despite identifying savings of more than £20 million.

Its budget gap widened to £18.2 million in September and the board is seeking additional funding from the Scottish Government.

Highlands and Islands Labour MSP David Stewart welcomed the local A&E figures but said it was “not entirely surprising” that other targets were being missed.

“The SNP’s mismanagement of the NHS and their failure to workforce plan has left departments understaffed and added pressure to existing staff,” he said.

The Scottish Government was asked to comment but failed to respond before deadline.

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