MUSGROVE Park Hospital has fallen short of its cancer treatment target as it sees 20 per cent more patients needing its services than last year.

National targets aim for cancer patients to start treatment within 62 days of urgent GP referral 85 per cent of the time.

The average for NHS trusts in England is 79.7 per cent, with Taunton and Somerset NHS Trust slightly ahead at 79.8 per cent.

According to the BBC, which collects the data from NHS England, the last time the NHS trust hit its target was in November 2016.

But it's been a busy time for the hospital, according to Matthew Bryant, chief operating officer of acute services, as there has been a 20 per cent increase in cancer patients over the last year.

Despite the increase, the hospital says it will continue to get treatment for patients as quickly as possible.

Mr Bryant said: “In the past 12 months we have treated 20 per cent more patients with cancer than in the previous year and our teams are seeing more patients than ever before, but we have struggled to see patients as quickly as we would wish.

“We are taking steps to provide more capacity to diagnose or rule-out possible cancers when patients are referred to us with concerning symptoms. This includes additional scanners and radiographers to enable patients to have diagnostic tests more quickly, and additional specialist nurses to support patients on cancer pathways

“Around 80 per cent of patients with confirmed cancers go on to receive their treatment within 62 days and we will continue to do everything we can to provide treatment as quickly as we possibly can.”