PERFORMANCE: NHS Bury has “enforced contractual levers” in a bid to increase the speed at which the trust refers patients in need of specialist cancer treatment, board papers state.

The primary care trust, along with the Greater Manchester and Cheshire cancer network as a whole, is expecting to fail against the national target of treating 85 per cent of patients within three months of GP referral for suspected cancer.

At the heart of the problem is the speed at which trusts in the network refer patients on to “tertiary” specialists, in particular The Christie Foundation Trust.

To resolve this, trusts have agreed a local target of ensuring 85 per cent of tertiary referrals are within 42 days. By the end of October 2011-12, the Pennine’s year to date performance was just 50 per cent.

“NHS Bury has enforced contractual levers in line with performance requirements against ‘onward  cancer referral to tertiary centres in 42 days’ and continues to work closely with PAHT through weekly meetings, along with NE Sector colleagues, to improve cancer performance,” a report to the PCT’s locality board states.