Ashford and St Peter's NHS trust admits cancer follow-up failure

Ashford Hospital Image copyright Ashford and St Peter's Hospital Trust
Image caption Ashford and St Peter's Hospitals Trust is the largest provider of acute hospital services in Surrey

A health trust has admitted failing to properly follow up 22 of its cancer patients, three whom have since died or are receiving palliative care.

Ashford and St Peter's NHS Trust said it has reported the 22 incidents, some of which date back to 2011.

It said the patients treatment plans "were not reviewed in a timely way, which has the potential to cause harm".

The trust suggested a reliance on "paper and notification forms" could be to blame.

Ashford and St Peter's NHS Trust works across two sites - Ashford Hospital, in Surrey, and St Peter's Hospital in Chertsey.

In a statement, it said: "It is always difficult to determine exactly what level of harm may have been caused by a delay and whilst we cannot disclose details of individual patients, in at least two of the [three patients that died] we know this is not directly attributable to the delay in their care.

Common themes

"In addition, we know that of these 22 individuals, a number did not suffer any adverse outcome but are reported as serious incidents due to the potential harm that could result from delay."

The trust said each case has been "thoroughly investigated" in close liaison with the patient and their family.

It added: "There are many different and complex reasons why a patient may become lost to follow-up but the reliance on paper and notification forms to support patients and to administrate their pathways is not sufficiently robust to ensure it is fool-proof."

Last year, it said it had proactively initiated a new Patient Pathway Programme to review and improve administrative procedures for cancer patients.

It said it was attempting to spot common themes to reduce the risk of patients not being followed up, a problem it claimed is common to most acute trusts.

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