AN improvement plan imposed on the Great Western Hospital after it failed to meet cancer and stroke targets is showing results - but more needs to be done.

Action plans were put in place by management after the Swindon Clinical Commissioning Group served them with a notice last year.

Now the hospital is beating the target for breast cancer referrals. In May 72.5 per cent of patients were being referred to an oncologist within the two-week deadline.

In the latest report the figure had jumped to 96.1 per cent - well over the 93 per cent target.The improvement came after a locum breast consultant was taken on in June to help ease pressure on waiting times.

The number of overdue follow up appointments has also dropped from 3,488 in August last year, to 1834 last month. Progress was made because patients who had been waiting the longest were brought to the front of the queue.

But according to the latest figures some targets are still being missed. The two-week referral wait for all cancers is at 87.8 per cent - short of the 93 per cent required.

The quarterly report says the problem was down to a summer increase in the number of people seeking help for dermatological problems like suspected skin cancers.

Stroke admission targets are also being missed.

A predictor tool has been used by the hospital to show what progress is being made towards targets. Produced by the Sentinel National Stroke Programme, it grades health services from A to E on the quality of their stroke care.

Last year the GWH was given the lowest grade, E. Earlier this year it improved to a D, but it is expected the performance in July will mean it remains there rather than improving.

A specialist therapy and stroke nurse was recruited and workshops have been run to help all emergency department staff to be more alert to the signs of strokes - measures that were credited with the previous improvement. But pressure on beds in the stroke unit affected the figures.

A hospital spokeswoman said: “We do all we can to ensure patients can begin treatment as soon as possible. However, consistently meeting NHS targets is a challenge and performance varies monthly depending on a wide range of factors.

“What’s important is that our specialist doctors, nurses and therapists do all they can to provide patients with the best possible quality of treatment, care and support, given the resources and capacity we have available.”