PERFORMANCE: Commissioners have issued a contract “query notice” to Portsmouth Hospitals Trust after it failed to meet three key cancer waiting time standards.

Trust board papers said that meetings were held with commissioners to agree a “mutually acceptable performance improvement action plan”.

In September the trust only achieved a referral to treatment time of 62 days for 83.1 per cent of patients against a target of 85 per cent. It also fell short on “screening to treatment” and “consultant upgrade to treatment” standards.

Performance was back on target in October.

As long as the trust stuck to the agreed plan, no further action would be taken if the plan was carried out, but the trust was fined £25,000 automatically as the breach is deemed a “national specified event”.

Although the trust expected to meet cancer targets on a sustainable basis from October, risks remained.

These included: “The implementation of actions to reduce average waiting times, which may result in a short-term increase in clock-stops for patients who have already breached target waiting times,” and “pathway delays over the Christmas period, as a result of patient choice and reduced internal capacity.”