A teaching hospital is closing its urology service to out of area referrals, as it struggles to deal with a backlog of cases.
King’s College Hospital Foundation Trust in south London is making the move, alongside diverting some work from one of its sites to community services in order to increase cancer capacity.
The tertiary centre’s most recent performance against the target of 85 per cent of urgent referrals being seen within 62 days was 74 per cent. It sees patients from across south east England.
The trust’s September board papers said refusing out of area referrals would free up capacity to increase the number of local patients seen within two weeks. It later confirmed it had agreed the porposals.
National performance against the two week standard for all cancers was 92 per cent in July, and King’s performance was 86 per cent. The target is 93 per cent.
The trust saw 270 patients with suspected urological malignancies on the two week pathway in July, 87.7 per cent of them within 14 days – the lowest rate in London.
The size of the trust’s overall waiting list in this specialism is not known.
King’s recruited a locum gastrointestinal radiologist for its Princess Royal University Hospital site last month alongside a consultant pathologist, as well as changing its process for outsourcing tests in urology.
The trust is also investing in equipment and training urology clinicians on both sites on “template biopsies” under local anaesthetic.
A spokeswoman for the trust said: ”The decision to re-direct referrals to Guy’s and St Thomas’, and Lewisham and Greenwich Trust was agreed by the South East London Cancer Alliance and local CCGs as a timely and effective response to the significant increase in urology referrals across the country as a result of Public Health England’s public health campaign in July.
”The referrals followed a review of urology capacity at all three trusts and will ensure that patients in south east London receive timely treatment.”
*This story was updated on October 31 to reflect the trust’s returning with a statement