A young mother was told she may face an anxious six week wait for an urgent cancer referral at Peterborough City Hospital – four weeks longer than the NHS target.
Joanne Smith from Langtoft was referred to the hospital by her GP due to a lump on her breast – a month after she had first seen a doctor about the issue.
But the 32-year-old said when she called up the hospital a week after her referral to check her appointment date she was informed it may be another five -week wait before she gets to see a specialist.
Joanne, who gave birth to her son less than a year ago, said: “The booking team at the hospital said it could not book me an appointment because there was nothing in two weeks. They said it could be another four to five weeks because they are trying to get through a waiting list. I had waited a week already, so it could be six weeks overall.
“Should it be anything serious I have potentially waited a month from first seeing my GP then another six weeks on top of that. At a worrying and uncertain time two weeks felt like a long time, however, potentially five weeks will feel like an age.”
The NHS website states: “The maximum waiting time for suspected cancer is two weeks from the day your appointment is booked through the NHS e-Referral Service, or when the hospital or service receives your referral letter.”
Dr Kanchan Rege, medical director at North West Anglia NHS Foundation Trust, which runs Peterborough City Hospital, said: “The breast service across the trust has experienced an unprecedented 30 per cent increase in referrals in the last financial year.
“When appointments are not immediately available, all referrals are being triaged by an experienced clinician and patients with the highest clinical need are being seen first.
“For those patients that are diagnosed with a cancer we are commencing treatment within the 62-day standard, so treatment is not being delayed. We have plans to expand our capacity to deal better with the increase in demand on the service.
“Where patients are waiting longer than we would like, they are being contacted by an experienced clinician who is discussing their symptoms with them.”