Our region has the highest rate of cancer patients waiting more than 104 days for treatment than anywhere else in the UK, a worrying report revealed.
Merseyside and Cheshire also has the second highest rate for patients waiting more than 62 days for treatment, both NHS targets that lay bare the shocking backlog building up during the coronavirus lockdown.
The figures emerged ahead of a meeting of board members running Arrowe Park Hospital, in a report based on warnings from the Cheshire and Merseyside Cancer Alliance.
It said: “On the 30th June the Cheshire & Merseyside (C&M) Cancer Alliance wrote to all Trust Chairs,Trust Chief Executives and CCG accountable officers to raise that across C&M there was the highest number of patient on cancer pathways waiting more than 104 days in England per 100k population and the second highest number of patients waiting more than 62 days.
“The cancer Alliance drew attention to the increase in numbers since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic citing a 663% increase in over 104 day numbers, and a 410% increase for over 62 day patient numbers.”
Keep up to date with local news in your area by adding your postcode below
Non-urgent treatment was halted early in the lockdown to help prevent the virus tearing through hospitals – but as deaths and infections levels drop NHS bosses are desperate to ease spiralling waiting lists.
According to the figures, as of June 30 there were 748 patients waiting more than 104 days in Cheshire and Merseyside, including 239 at Liverpool University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (LUHFT), which runs the Royal Liverpool, Aintree and Broadgreen hospitals.
There were also 111 in Arrowe Park, 20 at Liverpool Women’s Hospital and 50 across St Helens and Whiston hospitals.
There were 1,983 waiting more than 62 days, including 641 at in LUFHT, 282 in Arrowe Park and 30 at Liverpool Women’s.
The Cheshire and Merseyside Cancer Alliance highlighted that urgent cancer treatment did continue during the pandemic.
A spokeswoman said: “Hospitals across Cheshire and Merseyside have worked incredibly hard to protect patients from any risk of COVID-19 while continuing to provide vital services like cancer care.
“All referrals are assessed by expert clinicians who give appointments out in order of clinical priority, while the NHS boosts its diagnostic and surgical capacity with new scanners to ensure people get the care they need as quickly as possible.
“Anyone who is worried about symptoms that could be cancer should contact their GP straight away – please don’t delay seeking help.”