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Stubborn cancer backlog at record high

The number of people waiting more than two months to start cancer treatment remained over 30,000 — double the pre-covid level — for three months to the end of October, according to new data published.

NHS England previously committed to bringing the number of people waiting longer than 62 days to be diagnosed and begin treatment, after referral for suspected cancer, to pre-pandemic levels – roughly 14,000 – by March 2023.

But the number has been generally growing since the spring, and remained above 30,000 from August through to the end of October, the latest figures available. September and October’s monthly totals were higher than the previous monthly peak in May 2020, after services were disrupted in the first covid wave.

The increase in waiters this year has been caused by diagnostic and treatment capacity falling short of an increased number of referrals. 

Matt Sample, policy development manager at Cancer Research UK, said: “While it’s good to see significant numbers of people coming forward with potential cancer symptoms, performance against key targets are among the worst on record, continuing a trend that existed long before the pandemic hit, with one target having been missed for almost seven years.”

Read full story (paywalled)

Source: HSJ, 8 December 2022


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