Cancer targets missed “year-on-year”

  • Date: 29 September 2021

NEARLY 55,000 patients diagnosed with cancer over the last six years should have been diagnosed quicker or started their treatment sooner, according to analysis from Cancer Research UK.

The organisation reports that the NHS in England has continued to miss its target to treat 85 per cent of cancer patients within two months of an urgent suspected cancer referral.

It points out that this target has not been met since 2015, and figures have been deteriorating year-on-year since 2017. Around 4,000 additional patients need to be diagnosed and start treatment to hit the 2016 target, and the numbers are mounting, with the figure already at around 11,600 in July of this year.

It further states that this is likely to be the “tip of the iceberg”, as the figures only capture cancer patients who had an urgent suspected cancer referral. Those diagnosed through a different route – following a routine referral for example – are likely to have waited even longer.

Cancer Research UK is calling on the Chancellor to use the upcoming comprehensive spending review to provide multi-year investment for the NHS to train more staff and buy more diagnostic equipment, in order to meet waiting time targets.

Michelle Mitchell, Cancer Research UK’s chief executive, said: "Despite working as hard as they can, NHS staff and services are constantly on the back foot, particularly as the number of people with cancer continues to grow."

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