CANCER treatment targets have not been met at the trust running Colchester Hospital since it took it over last year.

New NHS figures released yesterday revealed only 77.5 per cent of patients were seen after having been urgently referred within the national standard of 62 days.

This placed East Suffolk and North Essex NHS Foundation Trust, which took over Colchester Hospital last July, 118th out of 131 trusts across the UK.

Nationally hospital trusts fell short of the target to see 85 per cent of patients within 62 days, with the average at 78.4 per cent.

However, Colchester Hospital, which is run alongside Ipswich Hospital, fared better when targets were compared for Accident and Emergency and planned operations, such as hip and knee replacements.

A total of 92.8 per cent of patients were seen at A&E within four hours. The national target is for 95 per cent but many hospitals fell short.

The north Essex trust was ranked 24th out of 131 trusts.

A total of 89 per cent of patients had planned operations and care within the national 18-week target time.

The national standard is for 92 per cent of patients to be seen in this time frame but again the trust was in the top third of performing trusts for this being ranked 56th out of 127.

All figures relate to last autumn and do not show specifically how each hospital within the trust performed.

Nick Hulme, Chief Executive of the East Suffolk and North Essex NHS Foundation Trust, said: “Our cancer performance is unacceptable, I am very sorry that this is the case and give my personal apologies to patients we have kept waiting. We are committed to putting it right.

“It is one of our top priorities for the coming weeks to significantly improve our cancer performance. We have a team of specialist colleagues who are leading on this work every day and we are seeing signs of progress.

“We have put in place a range of actions to make sure every patient with suspected cancer is seen within two weeks by a specialist clinician, patients with confirmed cancer do not have to wait more than 31 days for the start of their treatment, patients do not have to wait more than 62 days from the time they were referred to the start of their treatment

“These actions include extra clinics, more access to the diagnostic tests needed such as CT scans and changing some of the ways we have been working to make sure all patients are carefully monitored every step of the way.”

The numbers of patients who have been kept waiting more than 62 days is small but it is not acceptable for anyone to have to wait and we apologise to all our patients who have been kept waiting.”

However, figures for mental health services in north Essex ranked eighth out of 195 clinical commissioning group areas.

The national target is for 75 per cent of patients to start therapy within six weeks of referral.

But North East Essex Clinical Commissioning Group managed to see 99 per cent of patients.

The figures were for last July and August.

A spokeswoman said: “In north east Essex we have always placed a commissioning emphasis on getting people into their Talking Therapy treatments as early as possible and to achieve that we have set a local target with our providers to ensure that patients receive their first treatment within 28 days.

"We are on track this year to see some 6,300 people enter into Talking Therapy treatments with our Health In Mind service, and the CCG has recently made a commitment to increase service funding with a goal to see 8,000 people entering treatments by end 2019/20.

”In addition to our Health In Mind service the CCG commissions the Mental Health Hub in Clacton which was recently nominated for a National innovation in mental health award.”