Shropshire MP raises concerns over breast cancer referral figures

Shropshire's breast cancer referral performance is one of the worst in the country, new figures have revealed.

Helen Morgan MP has raised concern over the latest figures for breast cancer referrals.
Helen Morgan MP has raised concern over the latest figures for breast cancer referrals.

North Shropshire Liberal Democrat MP Helen Morgan has called for a plan to help staff at the county's major hospitals, after the figures showed only 13 per cent of women referred to a specialist are seen within two weeks.

Out of 1,015 patients, 133 were seen within the two-week limit, while 882 waited more than two weeks. The data shows 566 people, more than half, waited more than four weeks to see a specialist.

The Government's national target is 93 per cent, while the average for England is 54 per cent.

The figures cover the three months up to April this year, and come as Shrewsbury & Telford Hospital NHS Trust is temporarily centralising its screening service to get through a backlog of 17,725 women waiting for an appointment.

Mrs Morgan said: “Early diagnosis is key to effective breast cancer treatment and that’s why the Government needs to do much more to clear this backlog and get people screened and checked much faster.

“There are delays in many areas of the country but, just like with ambulance delays, it is rural areas like Shropshire where the issue is particularly bad, largely due to issues with recruitment.

“There are clearly serious issues with the two key early stages of breast cancer treatment; screening and accessing a specialist. There is a huge backlog of women waiting to be screened and those that have been referred, either by a GP or after a screening, are then facing long waits to see a specialist and be diagnosed or cleared.

“Shropshire is so far away from hitting the target times for referral that it is clear major action is needed.

“The delays are reducing the chance of effective treatment if breast cancer is eventually found and leading to weeks or sometimes months of unnecessary anxiety for those who are eventually cleared.”

The figures rank Shrewsbury & Telford Hospital NHS Trust as 106th out of 117 providers in the country.

Mrs Morgan also raised concern about the temporary centralisation of the screening service – which means the mobile screening bus will not be in Market Drayton or Bridgnorth.

She said: “It is good news that the hospital trust has a plan to increase the number of appointments and operate on a seven-day basis.

“However, as all of these appointments will be at hospital sites it is crucial that support is given to those who will have difficulty reaching Telford or Shrewsbury. Shrewsbury is the easier hospital to reach via public transport but still requires at least two buses and takes around 80 minutes – double the car journey.

“The breast cancer team is just one of several at the hospital which has struggled to attract enough staff and that’s why the Government needs to come up with an effective plan to tackle this shortage. Simply advertising the same posts and hoping is not good enough.”

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