Beds, Herts & Bucks

Watford hospital needs cancer care overhaul

Image copyright West Hertfordshire Hospitals NHS Trust
Image caption Watford General Hospital breached NHS rules over follow-ups in the case of 810 cancer patients

A report into failures to provide follow-up cancer appointments at a hospital, commissioned after two patients died, has called for an overhaul of services.

The NHS reviewed cancer referrals at Watford General Hospital after it breached rules over follow-ups in the care of 810 cancer patients.

The review says staff need to be encouraged to report poor practice.

The trust that runs the hospital has apologised to patients and families.

The independent NHS report came after West Hertfordshire Hospitals NHS Trust held an internal review that found the care of three out of 810 patients might have been compromised. Two of the patients died.

The new review, led by Stephen Ramsden OBE - a former chief executive of Luton and Dunstable Hospital and deputy chairman of Kettering Hospital, calls on the hospital to:

  • Create a new cancer plan, with a clear vision of the cancer care needed
  • Improve IT and communications to support high quality care
  • Strengthen links between key clinical staff and the outpatients department
  • Improve appointments to suit patients' needs to encourage better attendance

Mr Ramsden said: "We have carefully recommended actions and mechanisms to ensure the standards are met and that patients receive the best care experience possible."

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What the review looked at

The review covers people initially referred for urgent appointments and who were discharged after missing one appointment.

This contravenes NHS rules as they should have been offered a second appointment.

"It is important that clinical and non-clinical staff at all levels understand their responsibilities and take ownership for putting things right.

Samantha Jones, West Hertfordshire Hospitals Trust chief executive, said: "I apologise unreservedly to the patients and families affected and wish to assure them that we have already put mechanisms in place to stop these issues arising again."

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