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Imperial launches further review of cancer treatment for 126 patients

A large healthcare trust has launched an internal review into the treatment received by more than a hundred patients referred for suspected cancer, within a month of the completion of an independent review into the same issue.

Imperial Healthcare NHS Trust is reviewing the cases of 126 patients who were found to have an ‘unclear status’ on the spreadsheet that recorded details of patients referred under the two-week wait pathway for cancer.

This means the trust has no details of whether these patients had received an important test result or attended a second appointment.

The so-called ‘notes validation’ internal review - led by the trust’s lead clinician on cancer and agreed with CCGs in the area - comes after the trust was forced to write to GPs to ask for their help in tracking down patients urgently referred for cancer tests, after it was revealed that records detailing whether 1,023 such patients still required treatment were incomplete.

This review found no patients came to any clinical harm as a result of the data recording errors.

The 126 patients being reviewed in the latest review were included in the previous investigation, but the trust says they are looking at the cases again to see how the delays ‘impacted on their treatment’.

Last month, NHS North West London sent a letter to GPs advising them to send cancer referrals to ‘alternatives’ such as the Royal Marsden Hospital rather than Imperial Healthcare NHS Trust after delays in cancer treatment.

The letter said the trust had ‘struggled to consistently achieve the national treatment standards for 31 and 62 day waits’.

The letter added that the trust had performed poorly on the national cancer experience survey: ‘In addition to cancer wait performance issues, following the recent publication of the national cancer patient experience survey, the trust is within the bottom quartile of providers with very little improvement seen on last year.’

It concluded: ‘The trust is working to a detailed remedial action plan to improve this position by the end of March 2013, when discussing the choice of provider with patients, it may be helpful to consider alternatives during this period.’

A spokesperson for NHS North West London said: ‘We’re continuing to monitor Imperial and the further results of the notes review of 126 patients.’

A spokesperson for NHS Imperial Healthcare Trust said: ‘This review should give reassurance that we now have more robust audit and governance of the data and that the trust is responding to any opportunity that enables us to ensure patient safety, learn lessons or improve our processes.’

They added: ‘It would wrong to second guess the outcome of this review until it is complete – however, the most important thing is that all the patients are now on appropriate treatment pathways and receiving the level of care that they need.’

Dr Tony Grewal, medical director of Londonwide LMCs said: ‘Geographically speaking, schlepping to the Royal Marsden is a difficulty at a time when patients in this circumstance will already be having a difficult time and will be vulnerable, so I’m sure the decision by NHS London has not been made lightly.’

‘With regards to the second review- I’d be asking to see the results. What GPs want to know is that when we refer a patient that it will mean they get seen by the right person at the right time. GPs need to be confident of this.’

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