Gateshead Health: all the key numbers for the NHS Trust in March

File photo dated 18/1/2023 of a NHS hospital ward, as nursing university applicants have fallen by 24%, leading to fears the reduction could exacerbate Scotland's NHS recruitment crisis.File photo dated 18/1/2023 of a NHS hospital ward, as nursing university applicants have fallen by 24%, leading to fears the reduction could exacerbate Scotland's NHS recruitment crisis.
File photo dated 18/1/2023 of a NHS hospital ward, as nursing university applicants have fallen by 24%, leading to fears the reduction could exacerbate Scotland's NHS recruitment crisis.
Thousands of patients were waiting for a key diagnostic test at Gateshead Health in March, figures show.

Thousands of patients were waiting for a key diagnostic test at Gateshead Health 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.

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NHS England figures show at Gateshead Health, 5,449 patients were waiting for one of 12 standard tests, such as an MRI scan, non-obstetric ultrasound or gastroscopy at this time.

Of them, 410 (8%) 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.

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Separate figures from NHS England show of 82 patients urgently referred by the NHS who were treated at Gateshead Health in March, 55 were receiving cancer treatment within two months of their referral.

​A month previously – when 70 patients were referred – 44 were treated within 62 days.​

In March 2022, 52 patients were treated within this period, out of 87 that were referred.

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.

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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."

"Without extra treatment capacity and a dedicated cancer plan we will continue to condemn cancer patients to avoidable delays and lives will be lost unnecessarily," she added.

Other figures show 12,879 patients were waiting for non-urgent elective operations or treatment at Gateshead Health NHS Foundation Trust at the end of March – up slightly from 12,862 in February, and 10,956 in March last year.

The median waiting time from referral at an NHS Trust to treatment at Gateshead Health was 10 weeks at the end of March – down from 11 weeks in February.

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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.