CANCER treatment target times have been missed as the number of referrals have increased by 20 per cent.

Bolton NHS Foundation Trust failed to meet national standards for seeing cancer patients in June which could mean it fails the whole quarter.

It has consistently beaten targets of seeing 85 per cent of cancer patients within 62 days, achieving 90 per cent in most quarters.

This put the trust among the top three in the country for cancer target performance.

But now chief operating officer Andy Ennis said the trust has failed to meet this target for June and, if it passes the quarter, it will only just reach 85.

This has been linked to a significant increase in cancer referrals by around a fifth over the last year.

Mr Ennis described the results as an inevitable consequence of a "positive" change.

This is because the increase in referrals has been put down to people getting checked earlier meaning fewer patients being diagnosed at a late stage, according to the hospital chief.

He said: "The campaigns are working, people are coming in earlier."

Mr Ennis also revealed that Greater Manchester hospitals are looking to change the way target times are recorded.

Currently, each hospital trust across the city-region has its own targets to meet despite patients being referred to different locations.

This means a delay caused by one hospital could mean another hospital belonging to another trust fails to meet its target.

Mr Ennis wants the trust to share responsibility and have a communal target for cancer performance.

He said: "We're working on a plan which says let's stop trying to manage on an organisational basis and let's see what we can do. Let's just say it's all of our problem. Let's get people treated in 62 days."

A report also outlines changes to cancer pathways which should allow for patients to be seen quicker.

The results of each quarter are confirmed six weeks after the quarter finishes.