Seven in 10 NHS trusts have seen longest waits lengthen since 2010 with cancer patients now waiting up to 18 months for treatment after being referred by their GP, figures show.
The statistics from Labour, reported by the Telegraph, show one patient waited 541 days for treatment after being referred urgently with suspected cancer by their GP.
Another waited 446 days, against a target to complete treatment within 62 days. Some patients waited more than a year even to see a consultant.
Overall, 69% of trusts had seen their longest waits lengthen since 2010, the research found.
Jonathan Ashworth, the Shadow Health Secretary, said the government was “losing control of cancer care”. “Years of under-funding and abject failure to invest in the frontline doctors and nurses we need means Theresa May is letting down cancer patients,” he stated.
A Department of Health and Social Care spokesman argued cancer care has improved significantly in recent years, with around 7,000 people alive today who would not have been if mortality rates stayed the same as in 2010.
“Nobody should wait longer than necessary for treatment and, despite a 115% increase in referrals since 2010, the vast majority of people start treatment within 62 days – backed by our £600m investment to improve cancer services,” the spokesman said.
Julia Ross, head of cancer care at Bupa UK, warned that the healthcare system is suffering from increasing demand for care, with cancer patients in the UK waiting too long for diagnosis and treatment.
She said early cancer detection has a significant impact on an individual’s chance of survival, and reduces the need for complex and invasive treatment that lowers quality of life. “Waiting to find out whether symptoms are cancerous is a very stressful and difficult time for people – and we recognise that every day matters,” she added.
Commenting on new NHS performance figures, Nuffield Trust Chief Executive Nigel Edwards said “This winter has been exceptionally tough for the NHS and these figures show that there was no let up, even after the end of the traditional winter period.
“The NHS simply cannot go on like this. Running a health system so close to capacity is highly risky and doing so endangers patient safety, as well as staff wellbeing. The Prime Minister has rightly signalled a more sustainable financial settlement for the NHS. This must ensure that the whole system – both inside and outside of hospital – is able to cope with the levels of demand for healthcare now and in the future.”
As pressure on NHS services continues to be the focus of the media attention employers are likely to see an increase in demand for benefits that allow their healthcare to be better supported.
Lucy Pearce, advo’s Head of Employee Benefits who commented “We are seeing employees increasingly looking to their employers to provide far wider support than just a good wage. Good quality medical insurance allows wider choice over treatment options and can help support NHS care. Employees are not immune to recent press coverage and are expected to continue to press for access to private care where necessary.”
This basis of this article first appeared in HI Daily online magazine. You can view the original article here.