‘Horrific’ cancer wait times revealed

New research commissioned by the Liberal Democrats from the House of Commons Library has shown huge disparities in cancer care across England revealing a horrific crisis right across the country.

This winter, from November 2021 to February 2022 almost 195,000 patients waited longer than two weeks to see a consultant after an urgent cancer referral from their GP.

The NHS target is for 93% of patients to be seen within this time but across England nearly a quarter of people don’t see a consultant for that urgent appointment.

Similarly in the same time period only 1 in 7 of people received a cancer diagnosis after 28 days from an urgent referral by their GP and almost 40,000 patients waited longer than 2 months (62 days) to start treatment from their urgent referral. The target is 85% but only 65% began treatment within this time.

The new analysis of NHS cancer wait times stats from November 2021 to February 2022 shows a huge postcode lottery for cancer waiting times.

The data shows Surrey and Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust as one of the worst waiting times in the country for cancer waiting times, with only just over half of people seeing a specialist within 28 days of referral by the GP, while nearby Kingston Hospital NHS Foundation Trust nearly 9 in 10 of people do. Similarly, Birmingham Women’s And Children’s NHS Foundation Trust sees 89% of people in 28 days but down the road at Walsall Healthcare NHS Trust only 55% are.

In the Prime Minister’s constituency (Uxbridge and South Ruislip – The Hillingdon Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust) only 6 out of 10 people are seen within 62 days between an urgent referral from their GP and their first definitive treatment. Meanwhile, in the Health Secretary Sajid Javid’s own constituency (Bromsgrove), Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust has shockingly failed to hit 7 out of 9 of its cancer waiting times targets.

Ahead of the local elections the Liberal Democrats are calling for the Government to hire more staff, especially specialist cancer nurses. The party is also calling for a comprehensive strategy to ensure all those who have been left behind are offered timely cancer diagnosis and treatment and that targets be met as soon as possible.

Liberal Democrat Health Spokesperson, Daisy Cooper MP, said: “The Conservatives have been driving our health services into the ground and taking patients for granted for years. This January saw the longest waits on record and now people will be shocked to see just how much of a postcode lottery there is when it comes to cancer care.

Daisy Cooper MP

“Delays to cancer diagnoses and treatments are incredibly distressing for those with cancer and those who fear they may have it. But knowing they could be seen faster if they lived somewhere else will just adds insult to injury.

“This Conservative Government has their head in the sand over staff shortages and no real plan to fix it. They must get a handle on this crisis so cancer patients get the urgent care they need to give them the best chance of survival and recovery.”

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