POSTED: September 18 2018
NHS continues to struggle to meet cancer targets

NHS continues to struggle to meet cancer targets

Figures released by NHS England for July 2018 show that the 62-day target was breached again with only 78% of patients in England starting treatment within two months of being urgently referred by their GP with suspected cancer, against the target of 85%.

The 62-day target has now been breached for 31 months in a row

The figures also confirm that over two thirds/half of NHS hospital trusts in England (72%) missed the 62-day target in July 2018, with 46 trusts ,  around one in 3 , missing the target by 10 percentage points or more1.

In the past 12 months, around 28,000 people waited more than two months for treatment to start after an urgent GP referral, including almost 11,000 people who waited for more than three months2

Since the target was first breached in January 2014, around 110,000 people have waited more than two months for their cancer treatment to start.

The two week wait for referral from a GP to see a specialist was also missed in July 2018, with 92% of patients seeing a specialist within two weeks of being urgently referred by their GP, against a target of 93%. This is the fourth month in a row that this target has been missed.

Commenting on the cancer waiting times for July 2018, published by NHS England, Dr Fran Woodard, Executive Director of Policy and Impact at Macmillan Cancer Support, says “Despite the very best efforts of hard-working doctors and nurses, these missed targets3 are disappointing and indicative of the immense pressure on the NHS workforce. We hope that the long-term plan for the NHS will help to ensure that the right staff, equipped with the right tools are able to deliver world-class care for the cancer patients of the future.”



  1. This refers to all provider trusts at which 5 or more patients started cancer treatment in July 2018, which amounts to 140 trusts in total.
  2. Refers to August 2017 — July 2018 inclusive
  3. Referring to the 62 day waiting times target to start treatment following an urgent referral from a GP and 2-week referral waits from GP to see a specialist.