Cancer patients face ‘disheartening’ wait for treatment due to missed goals
Thousands of cancer patients in England are facing ‘distressing’ waiting times due to missed targets after the coronavirus pandemic, according to the Liberal Democrats.
The party, sharing research from the House of Commons Library, said 78% of patients between November and February waited more than two weeks to see a consultant after an urgent referral from their GP – 15 points below the NHS target of 93%.
The result was that 195,000 people waited longer than the target duration.
During the same period, almost 40,000 patients waited more than two months to start treatment after their emergency referral.
The target is 85%, but only 65% have started treatment within this timeframe.
However, the Liberal Democrats are not accusing the Conservatives of a pork barrel policy when it comes to cancer treatment.
Research shows that in Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Uxbridge and South Ruislip constituency, which is covered by Hillingdon Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, six in 10 people – below the 85% target – are receiving their first treatment final within 62 days of an urgent referral from their GP.
Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust, which covers Health Secretary Sajid Javid’s Bromsgrove constituency, is among the ten worst NHS trusts in England for patients having to wait beyond the two-week target between recommending a general practitioner and the first appointment with a consultant, according to the data.
Only 57% of suspected cancer patients were seen within 14 days by the trust, meaning 3,888 people waited longer in the three months counted.
Ahead of local elections, the Lib Dems are calling on the government to hire more staff, especially cancer nurses, to help reduce waiting times.
The party is also calling for a strategy to help speed up the delivery of cancer care to those who have waited the longest.
Lib Dem deputy leader Daisy Cooper said: ‘Delays in cancer diagnosis and treatment are incredibly distressing for people with cancer and those who fear they may have it.
“This Conservative government has its head in the sand because of staffing shortages and no real plan to fix it.
“They need to get this crisis under control so that cancer patients receive the urgent care they need to give them the best chance of survival and recovery.”
A spokeswoman for the Department of Health and Social Care said: ‘We know the pandemic has had a serious impact on people with cancer, and we are committed to investing in the NHS to tackle the backlog of treatment.
“That’s why the Secretary of Health and Social Care has declared a national war on cancer and why we’re developing a 10-year cancer plan to set out how we’re going to lead the world in cancer care. .
“Our record investment in the NHS included an additional £2 billion in 2021 and £8 billion over the next three years to reduce waiting times, including the delivery of nine million checks, scans and ‘additional operations.’