Cancer waiting time targets not met since 2015

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Cancer waiting time targets not met since 2015

Last week Cancer Research UK released the findings of a study carried out in England which found that more than 380,000 cancer patients have not been treated on time since 2015.

To put that another way, the NHS key target of 85 per cent of patients starting treatment within 62 days after being urgently referred for suspected cancer has not been met since December 2015. You can read the story on the Sky News website. This news is extremely concerning as delayed cancer treatment significantly affects a patient’s survival chances and can lead to far more invasive procedures and longer hospital stays This not only affects the patient, but also their whole family in very significant ways.

Despite all the good intentions of existing treatment targets, Cancer Research UK have said part of the reason for the delays is thought to be down to staff shortages and lack of equipment vital for confirming a diagnosis, such as CT and MRI scanners.

The natural knock on effect of these shortages is a backlog of patients waiting when time is of the essence. Delays in starting cancer treatment have also been reported by The Royal College of Radiologists (RCR) as becoming "routine", with the number of centres experiencing severe delays almost doubling in a year.

Cancer Research UK’s chief executive, Michelle Mitchell has called for cancer waiting times to be made a top priority. However, NHS staff are under enormous pressure and patient safety remains a concern for both doctors and patients.

However, the NHS has highlighted that a record number of cancer patients are being treated, with a 30 per cent increase in 2023 compared to 2015/2016 and even more patients than ever are being diagnosed at an early stage, with cancer survival at an all-time high.

But the fact remains that with an ever growing population and shortage of staff, targets are still not being met.

One in two of us will be diagnosed with cancer at some point during our life and the message still remains that early detection and treatment is key for the best possible chance of survival.

The clinical negligence team at JMW know all too well the devastating consequences a delayed cancer diagnosis can have on patients and their families. If you or a loved one would like to speak to one of our specialists to see how we may be able to help, please get in touch.

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