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  1. ITV Report

NHS in Kent second fastest in country for cancer treatment times

  • Video report by ITV News Meridian's Tony Green

The Kent and Medway NHS Trust is now the second fastest in the country for delivering treatment to cancer patients.

Two years ago, cancer patients in the county faced the longest waits in England for treatment.

Now, changes to the way prostate cancer patients are treated has been hailed as the main reason for the improvement.

Tristan Swain at home with his wife Denise and his dog Percy. Credit: ITV Meridian

Tristan Swain, 53, was diagnosed with prostate cancer while at Darent Valley Hospital, after first going to his GP to see about an increased need to go to the toilet.

After tests and an MRI led biopsy identified the aggressive cancer on his prostate, he had it removed one month later.

He says: "The whole thing was a shock, but you look back on it and you think to yourself, well it's all done and it's over. The care continues, but you are grateful for where you are, that you're still here, and you're doing well."

Consultant Urological Surgeon at Darent Valley Hospital, Professor Sanjeev Madaan Credit: ITV Meridian

Tristan was treated quickly because patients are now given an MRI scan before a biopsy, so surgeons know where to target. This has helped NHS trusts in Kent go from the bottom of the table for treatment, to nearly the top.

Consultant Urological Surgeon at Darent Valley Hospital, Professor Sanjeev Madaan, says: "We modified the pathway, brought the MRI before the biopsy, so that as soon as the patient comes to the clinic they have an MRI within a day or two, and the biopsy within a week or two. So we've created a timed pathway for these patients, which means that the early part of the journey becomes smoother. As a result, there is less pressure when they are ready for the treatment."

Waiting times for prostate cancer treatment have been cut by up to six weeks. The next step is to roll out similar improvements for other cancers, improving the patient experience.

Professor Sanjeev Madaan continued to say: "I don't think being number one or number two was in our mind when we were trying to hit those [national] targets. What was most important was our patients. Our aim is to give our patients in our region the world-leading treatment in a timely fashion."