When suspicion of cancer, patients should begin treatment within 62 days after their GP referral. Or at least this is what the NHS target is for 85% of patients. The NHS only managed to do 83.5%, however more shocking than the percentage is the fact that this is the third quarter in a row the target was missed,
As cancer charities announce that thousands of patients are being failed, Labour described the figures as a ‘scandal’.
The general rule for cancer is the earlier it is caught the better for the patient, as it increases the odds of survival rapidly. The NHS has targets in place to ensure this happens, however this particular target has not been met, thrice in a row.
Other targets, such as the ‘two week wait target’ got 93% of their patients to see a specialist within two weeks following GP referral. However, of the 33,404 people who started their treatment between July and September, over 5,500 were not treated within the 62 day target.
Sarah Woolnough, from Cancer Research UK said, ‘Today’s figures show that more than a third of all NHS trusts in England have breached the ’62-day target’.
These targets exist to ensure swift diagnosis of cancer and access to treatment, which is vital if we’re serious about having the best survival rates in the world.
Patients want confidence that suspected cancer is taken seriously and prioritised by the NHS.
These breaches have become a trend and they are worsening, which is why urgent action must be taken to support the NHS.’
Andy Burnham, shadow health secretary, blames Prime Minister David Cameron for cutting the cancer budget by £800m while his top-down NHS reorganisaton disrupted cancer treatment services.