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Lincoln man with stage 4 tumour slams waiting times for cancer treatment at United Lincolnshire Hospitals Trust





A man said he is “bitterly disappointed” after waiting almost half a year for treatment to begin on a stage 4 tumour in his mouth — which was only discovered by doctors after a discharge from A&E and multiple referrals.

Ivan Theobald, 62, from Lincoln, first went to his GP at the end of October 2023 after feeling soreness in his throat. Almost five months later, he is preparing for his first round of chemotherapy and radiotherapy for a stage 4 tumour at the base of his tongue.

This has had a big effect on his day-to-day life, with the tumour moving his tongue over to one side of his mouth, changing how he speaks, affecting some nerves in his face and making it a challenge to swallow food.

Ivan Theobold
Ivan Theobold

His story, as he tells it, is a tale of woe and frustration, in which he claims to have been ignored after initial placement on the NHS’ two-week wait appointment system, and even discharged from A&E despite symptoms of coughing up blood.

“It’s almost as if they leave it until you’re in this much pain,” Ivan said.

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“My GP didn’t refer me and I only ever saw him twice, as the rest of the time was taken up seeing a nurse, despite making my concerns heard to my GP.

“I even had to go to A&E in December after coughing up blood. They didn’t see anything and the bleeding stopped while I was there, so they sent me home.

“They then wrote to my GP to say I’d attended A&E with a nose bleed! The whole thing is just nonsense.

Also:I was so ill and felt like no-one was listening to me

“I am in increasing pain and my family and I are obviously suffering stress and anxiety; while I wonder what my outcome will be?”

Ivan is one of many across the country to be in the process of waiting for cancer treatment to commence, and localised figures offer little in the way of confidence for him.

NHS England data revealed a total of 679 patients being treated for cancer in Lincolnshire in January 2024, but some 41.7% of patients were waiting at least 62 days from urgent suspected cancer symptoms, screening referrals or consultant upgrades, to the first definitive treatment.

With the NHS’ national operational standard for treatment within 62 days being at 85%, United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust falls short of this mark by just under 30%.

In Ivan’s case, the gap between his first GP appointment and the due date for chemotherapy to start stands at over 140 days — close to three months longer than the 62-day target.

The time waiting between suspected cancer being identified by a consultant and chemotherapy commencing stands at 80 days also, further highlighting the problems Ivan and many others face.

The hospital trust in Lincolnshire says reducing these waiting times is still a high priority, and sets targets of bringing the 62-day treatment percentage to around 70% by the end of March next year.

Amanda Markall, deputy chief operating officer at United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust, said: “Improving care for people with suspected cancer remains a priority, and we are working towards meeting the national targets to see and diagnose 77% of patients within 28 days and treat 70% within 62 days by the end of March 2025.

“As part of this commitment, we are reducing waiting times by improving access to diagnostic testing, increasing the number of outpatient appointments available and increasing our theatre capacity to allow us to offer more operations.

“We also continue to work alongside GPs and other health professionals across primary care and regional centres to ensure those who need ongoing specialist care can easily access those pathways.”

Reacting to these statistics and how it makes him feel about his own case, Ivan said the cancer waiting times are “almost ridiculously high” in Lincolnshire.

“It’s just not good enough. Suffice to say if I had been referred at the first time of asking, I can confidently say I would not be at stage 4 right now.

“When you don’t catch these things early, they become stage 4, unfortunately.

“I feel a lot of time and energy is spent not seeing patients, rather than seeing patients.

“In the past I’ve always managed to get an appointment quickly, even when the waiting room is full. By and large it is now empty and you still can’t get an appointment.”

Ivan, however, was keen to stress that this appears a systematic problem, more than an issue around the staff themselves.

“The majority of staff at Lincoln County Hospital, in my experience, do the best they can in what is an awfully run organisation. It doesn’t fill you with confidence.

“For the most part I have been treated very well by county hospital staff themselves, but I do think things aren’t being run as smoothly as they could, as the long wait times show.”



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