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NHS set to miss cancer backlog target three years running, NHSE plans reveal


NHS England has effectively admitted the backlog of cancer long-waiters will still be higher in March 2024 than before covid hit, in a document seen by HSJ.

The consultation document, detailing trajectories for reducing numbers waiting 62 days or more from referral, shows the expected national total in March 2024 is 18,755.

NHS England previously committed to reducing this to pre-pandemic levels (14,226) by March 2022, then delayed the target until March this year. 

There are now significant backlogs in diagnostics, with particular challenges in endoscopy and breast screening.

NHS Providers director of policy and strategy Miriam Deakin said: “Cancer is a key priority for trusts. They understand the risk to patients who have to wait.

“The pandemic left people waiting longer than NHS trusts wanted for diagnosis or to start treatment, with some people not coming forward, but now urgent referrals for suspected cancer are far higher than pre-pandemic.

Read full story (paywalled)

Source: HSJ, 1 February 2023

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