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Unacceptable delays in patient with bladder cancer receiving treatment

It has been reported this week that patients with bladder cancer are experiencing unacceptable delays in receiving treatment, with some having to wait almost five months following a GP referral for suspected cancer (The Guardian).

NHS rules say that, following a diagnosis of cancer, treatment should be started within 62 days.  But a flaw in the guidance means that patients who have had a biopsy to diagnose their condition are counted as having had treatment and the clock stops ticking. They then experience long delays in receiving the treatment they need after the biopsy.

Jonathan Ashworth, the shadow health secretary, has written to the health secretary, Matt Hancock, highlighting this concerning data and urging him to take action to stop this loophole being used.  It enables NHS Trusts to conceal data about patients who have not actually had the treatment they should be getting within 62 days.

Only last month it was reported that waiting times for cancer treatment are currently among the longest they have been since records began. 

At such a traumatic and worrying time in a person’s life, treatment should be started as quickly as possible following a cancer diagnosis, which is why the NHS cancer waiting time guidance exists.  Not only do delays add to and prolong such a difficult time but it can also be extremely dangerous for cancer to be left untreated.

As a clinical negligence solicitor, I act for a number of clients whose cancer treatment has been delayed because of very poor care and I know how vitally important it is to start the treatment needed as soon as possible. 

With more than 18,000 people being diagnosed with bladder cancer every year in England, this loophole has to be closed and patients must be treated more quickly. 

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