PERFORMANCE: Eleven primary care trusts in the West Midlands are underperforming on cancer referral time targets.

NHS Dudley board papers state it is one of the 11 PCTs in the region (out of a total of 17) that is not hitting a year-to-date target to treat 85 per cent of cancer patients within 62 days of referral from GPs.

According to the papers, from the PCT’s February board meeting, the average figure across the West Midlands is 84.4 per cent.

Dudley achieved 83.7 per cent, which it blamed on “capacity issues” at Royal Wolverhampton Hospitals Trust.

Wolverhampton chief executive David Loughton said in a statement: “Due to patient choice we have seen a significant increase in the number of cancer patients coming in to New Cross [Hospital] and we also appreciate that, during their treatment, patients will often be seen by more than one trust, which presents its own series of challenges.

“We continue to work closely with NHS Dudley to ensure that our patients come first and we all do whatever we can to avoid any unnecessary delays concerning appointments.”

The trust was compliant in every one of its targets concerning cancer standards in December and expects this to have been the case in January.

A performance management report, which contained figures up to October 2010, said the situation was being monitored by the PCT and NHS West Midlands. A strategic health authority visit to Royal Wolverhampton was scheduled at the end of November.