Waiting time targets for cancer referrals on the NHS were not met in June, marking two and a half years’ worth of missed targets.
Performance figures from NHS England have shown that 82.7% of patients beginning their first definitive cancer treatment have been seen within 62 days from an urgent GP referral for suspected cancer – missing the 85% target.
Similarly, the 93% standard for two-week wait referrals for patients with breast cancer symptoms was not met.
Instead, 91.9% of patients where seen be a consultant within 14 days from an urgent GP referral.
Emma Greenwood, Cancer Research UK’s head of policy, said: “Today’s figures represent two and a half years of failure. More than half of all Trusts in England failed to meet the 85 per cent target for patients receiving their first treatment within 62 days following an urgent GP referral for suspected cancer.
“This is unacceptable. Cancer waiting times exist to promote swift diagnosis and prompt treatment for patients. Making sure that patients are diagnosed quickly is a vital part of improving their chances of survival and reducing the worry and anxiety that suspected cancer can cause.”
“Improving waiting times and ensuring earlier diagnosis of cancer is a priority in England’s cancer strategy. We want to see faster progress in implementing the strategy to address poor waiting times and ensure the NHS can diagnose all patients swiftly.”
Furthermore, Duleep Allirajah, head of policy at Macmillan Cancer Support said: “This latest breach is another blot on this sorry record of missed waiting times and is indicative of a failure that is sadly becoming the new norm.”
He added: “We know measures have been taken to incentivise trusts to improve in this area. But if they are to really stand a chance of improving waiting times, the recent one-off investment in early diagnosis by NHS England now needs to be guaranteed for every year between now and 2020. NHS England needs to spell out how much funding will be available, and ensure it is ring fenced.”
The performance figures also revealed, 171,298 days of delayed transfers of care in June 2016, compared with 139,538 in June 2015, indicating a 23% increase over the year.
A&E figures were also up by 3.3%, with 90% of patients admitted, transferred or discharged within four hours of arrival – below the 95% target.