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Up to 740,000 cancer cases needing urgent GP referrals could have been missed since first lockdown

The NHS may be missing more than 9 million referrals, while patients face a “postcode lottery” for cancer treatment and routine operations, a parliament watchdog has warned.

Millions of patients have either avoided or been unable to obtain healthcare during the pandemic leaving the NHS with a potential unknown backlog of operations, which could push the national waiting list to 12 million by 2025.

A report from the government’s National Audit Office today also warned patients across England are facing a postcode lottery in terms of waits with some hospital waiting lists far larger than others following the pandemic.

Eve Byrne, head of campaigns and public affairs, at Macmillan Cancer Support, said: “This report confirms what we hear day in, day out from people living with cancer. Chronic staffing shortages are already having a devastating impact on cancer patients, and we have major concerns that is only set to worsen without urgent action.

She said the government’s plan to tackle operations backlog must be backed up by steps to ensure enough nurses staff.

“Without these critical pieces of the puzzle, we risk increasing numbers of people facing later diagnoses, poorer care and potentially worse chances of survival. This has to change,” she added.

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Source: The Independent, 1 December 2021


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