PERFORMANCE: Dorset County Hospital NHS Trust is continuing to struggle on several key performance indicators, including targets on waiting times, accident and emergency treatment, operation cancellations, cancer treatment, and stroke services.

Board papers for the trust’s March meeting show that only 81.8 per cent of patients were referred to treatment within 18 weeks in January, against a national target of 90 per cent. The report predicted further under-achievement in Februrary.

There were 24 operations cancelled for non-clinical reasons in January. Nine were due to a lack of beds. The year to date performance is 2.5 per cent, more than triple the national tolerance level of 0.8 per cent.

In January, 5 per cent of patient discharges were delayed – worse than the trust’s average for 2010-11 of 4.2 per cent and significantly over the national tolerance level of 3.5 per cent.

Meanwhile 91.5 per cent of emergency patients not sent to a minor injuries unit were dealt with in four hours, significantly below the national target of 95 per cent.

Not enough stroke patients are spending 90 per cent of their time in a stroke ward, the trust said, with performance “deteriorating again” in December. Only 57.6 per cent of patients did so, against a national target of 80 per cent and a contractual agreement of 90 per cent.

Although the trust performed impressively on cancer screening waits, it failed to meet targets on two-week waits for urgent referrals.

The paper noted that under the trust’s local contract, a “penalty clause of 2 per cent of actual annual outturn value of service line revenue” is associated with the failure on any cancer target. “However, further clarification of the term ‘service line’ is required.”