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Published: 09:56, 13 June 2019
| Updated: 10:10, 13 June 2019
Thousands of cancer patients had to wait more than two months for treatment last year.
NHS targets aim for 85% of patients to be treated within two months of a GP's referral, but figures from last year show Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells achieved little more than 60% - the worst annual figures in the country.
The trust, which has not met cancer treatment targets since March 2015, says it is receiving a higher number of referrals than most of the UK.
Across 2018/19, 60.8% of Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells (MTW) NHS Trustpatients received treatment within the advised time frame.
In March, the trust managed to see 67.9% of patients within two months of a referral.
A trust spokesman said: "It is our absolute priority that MTW delivers the national standards on waiting times for cancer.
"In line with national trends, we have seen a large increase in demand with 23% more suspected cancer referrals now than this time last year. We have been working hard over the past nine months to respond to this rise and ensure more of our cancer patients are being seen quicker.
Nationally, hospital trusts are seeing a rise in cancer referrals of 13%.
The trust's statement continued: "We have made changes to our systems and processes as well as invested in additional staff and facilities to increase the number of patients we see, diagnose and treat.
"We want to make sure none of our patients wait longer than 62 days and we expect to achieve this shortly..." trust spokesman
"As a result, we have made significant improvements and are already in a much better place than the data published today shows. We are confident that we will hit the national 62 day wait cancer standard in the summer, in a sustainable way going forwards.
"Since January we have reduced the number of patients who have waited more than 62 days for cancer treatment from 300 to under 100, as of this week. We don’t want anyone to wait longer than they have to and we undertake additional clinical reviews of these patients to ensure they receive appropriate and high standards of care during this period.
"We are continuing with this hard work and are building on the good actions we’ve already taken that are delivering results.
"We want to make sure none of our patients wait longer than 62 days and we expect to achieve this shortly, allowing us to meet the cancer waiting time national standard over the summer period.
"Delivering high standards of care for patients is our priority."