Inquiry into hospital waiting times called

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Whitby Hospital''w134919
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An investigation has been launched into the health trust that runs Whitby and Scarborough hospitals over excessive waiting times in A&E and for cancer care.

The regulatory body, Monitor, said it wanted urgent improvements at York Teaching Hospital NHS Foundation Trust.

The trust runs Whitby’s Community Hospital and also the general hospital at Scarborough which is the nearest accident and emergency unit to Whitby and admits many patients from Whitby and the surrounding area.

There are concerns over the trust’s failure to meet the quarterly national A&E waiting time target for the fifth time in nearly two years and over waits for cancer patients, in particular those with breast symptoms. Officials have said that the repeated failures could indicate wider problems at the trust.

Frances Shattock, the regional director for Monitor, said: “It is simply not acceptable for patients to be waiting too long in A&E or to be seen following a cancer referral.”

Patrick Crowley, trust chief executive, said: “The difficulties in A&E are well documented, and in many ways this action by Monitor is inevitable given the pressures we are facing.

“There needs to be a recognition that this is a whole-system issue and not one that can only be resolved through changes in either A&E or the wider acute pathway within our hospitals.

“I would like to reassure patients that Monitor’s investigation is not concerned with the care or treatment provided for our cancer patients. The issue is with our difficulty in meeting targets around initial assessment and diagnosis in specific specialties.”

Problems recruiting key staff in Scarborough for breast care had led to difficulties delivering services and since July referrals had been directed to York.

“This is a temporary move and we are working hard to address the recruitment issue and looking at different ways of staffing the service”, he added.