Patients with suspected skin and breast cancer have experienced the largest increase in waiting times of everyone urgently referred to a cancer specialist, with 1 in 20 patients now facing the longest waits, analysis of NHS England data shows.
Almost 10,000 patients referred by a GP to a cancer specialist had to wait for more than 28 days in July – double the supposed maximum 14-day waiting time. Three-quarters of them were suspected of having skin, breast or lower gastrointestinal cancer, a Guardian analysis has revealed.
In total, 53,000 people in England waited more than two weeks to see a cancer specialist. That is 22% of all the patients urgently referred for a cancer appointment by their GPs.
Minesh Patel, head of policy at Macmillan Cancer Support, said people were waiting “far too long for diagnosis or vital treatment”. Patients “are worried about the impact of these delays on their prognosis and quality of care”.
“The NHS has never worked harder,” said Matt Sample, the policy manager at Cancer Research UK, but patients dealing with long waits “reflects a broader picture of some of the worst waits for tests and treatments on record”.
“When just a matter of weeks can be enough for some cancers to progress, this is unacceptable.”
Source: The Guardian, 2 October 2022