Suspected cancer patients are being urged to put their health before their holidays or social arrangements and not put off attending their hospital appointment.
Doctors are reporting an increase in patients deferring their appointment because of holidays or other activities and are worried these delays may impact on their diagnosis, treatment and chances of a successful outcome.
Clinicians at the Royal Surrey County Hospital have reported patients rescheduling their appointments during the summer.
Dr Marianne Illsley, the Medical Director at Royal Surrey County Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, said it was important patients put their health first.
She said: “We understand that a suspected cancer diagnosis can be scary and people may be tempted to put off their appointment, for holiday, family or other reasons.
“But at the same time we know how important it is for patients to be diagnosed as soon as possible so that treatment can begin. We have an amazing team at the hospital and they are delivering fantastic outcomes for our patients, but we need people to recognise how important it is that we are able to help them as soon as possible.”
The majority of cancer patients within the hospital’s catchment area are seen within the time set by national guidelines. Patients referred in from other areas are often delayed making it more important that they attend the first appointment they are offered.
Louise Stead, the Trust’s Chief Executive, meets each week with cancer leads to review patient delays and has noticed an increase in patients delaying their treatment.
She said: “We know our clinical teams offer great care and some of the best possible chances of beating cancer – but to do that we need to see patients as soon as possible so we can make the most of the talented individuals, and great treatment facilities we have. So please, make sure you attend your appointment wherever possible.”