By Anna Whittaker, Local Democracy Reporter
Chemotherapy treatment has restarted for all eligible patients at Nottingham hospitals after it was halted for some due to staff shortages and sickness.
Nottingham University Hospitals Trust (NUH), which runs the Queen’s Medical Centre and City Hospital, said last month that it could only provide chemotherapy to patients who “benefit most from the treatment”.
Treatment has now restarted two weeks after the trust promised to recruit more staff.
Dr Simon Roe, Clinical Director for Cancer and Associated Services at NUH said: “We have now restarted chemotherapy for all patients who had their treatment paused in September. We have contacted these patients directly to explain that their treatment will resume.
“We are also in the process of starting treatment for new patients who were unable to start treatment last month”.
A trust board advisor previously spoke out about the ‘incredibly challenging’ time for the organisation after it emerged that medics were having to decide which patients should continue to get cancer treatment and which should go without due to the temporary staff shortage.
Tim Guyler, Director of Integration and an advisor to the board, said during a Nottingham City Council meeting: “It has been very difficult. We have been having to make the kind of decisions that frankly you would never want to have to make about access to limited resources, be it from a chemotherapy and cancer operations side of things.
“It has been incredibly tough.”
The problem was also documented by Nottingham Oncologist Dr Lucy Gossage, who at the time wrote in a blog post: “Right now we don’t have the staffing capacity to deliver chemotherapy to all our patients and so, for the first time, the prioritisation list has come into force.
“I can’t imagine what it must be like to sit opposite your oncologist to be told that your treatment is being paused and we don’t know when we can restart it.”
The trust was already under a significant amount of pressure before the problem. A separate 90-page Care Quality Commission report published last month rated the organisation overall as ‘requires improvement’.
The critical report highlighted a “disconnect between the board and the wider organisation” and revealed a “culture of bullying” in parts of the trust which included some incidents of racial discrimination.