Bosses at JPH pledge to increase cancer treatment capacity to meet growing demand

An artist impression of how the new theatres will look at the James Paget Hospital. Picture: submitt

An artist impression of how the new theatres will look at the James Paget Hospital. Picture: submitted - Credit: Archant

Bosses at the James Paget University Hospital have pledged to increase capacity to help meet increased demand for cancer services.

Staff at the Gorleston hospital have witnessed a steady rise in cancer referrals over the last three years from around 500 patients a month in 2011/12 to more than 600 referrals a month in 2013/14.

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The number of women sent to the hospital for breast screening has also increased by a third over the last five years.

Officials from the JPH said they had increased the number of colorectal cancer and breast cancer surgeons to meet demand in recent years and the NHS trust was also looking to boost the numbers of radiologists to cope the extra number of x-rays, ultrasounds and MRI scans needed.

Sarah Downey, elective divisional director and lead breast surgeon, said ongoing work to build four new operating theatres at the site would also help increase capacity to carry out more keyhole surgery to remove cancerous tumours.

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However, she added that the hospital was still meeting two week waiting time targets, but had missed the 62 day treatment target on a few occasions because of some more complex cases taking longer to start treatment.

'We have seen an increase in referrals in response to public campaigns, but there is still a lot more education to be done.'

'We struggle with the over 70s and 80s and there is an attitude that it is not worth bothering about and it is not important because they seem to accept the symptoms as part of the ageing process.'

The Gorleston hospital offers chemotherapy to cancer patients, but people needing radiotherapy have to travel to the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital.

Mrs Downey added that work to increase the number of operating theatres at the JPH would help because surgeons were doing more keyhole procedures, which was better for patients, but took longer than open surgery.

She added that there was still work to do to improve the reconstruction rate for women who have had a mastectomy, which was currently around 30pc.

Work began at the hospital in May on a £8m building project to increase the number of operating theatres and is due to be completed in October 2015.

'We will try to deliver as much as we can to the highest quality here and when we can not do it here, we have good links so patients know what is happening and there is good communication if they are going to another trust.'

'We have a third colorectal surgeon, a third breast surgeon and we are trying to increase the number of radiology consultants and we have some plans to do that,' she added.

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