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22 May 2015

NHS slow at referring cancer patients

A leading Cancer charity has warned that the NHS in England is too slow at referring suspected cancer patients for treatment.

At least 85% of patients should start cancer treatment within 62 days of referral by a GP, yet thousands of patients are being failed according to Cancer Research UK - with the worst results since records began in 2009.

The chances of recovery from cancer are greatly improved by speedy diagnosis and treatment, yet according to an article published by the BBC - more than 21,000 people were not seen within the 62 day referral target in the last financial year.

Figures from the annual report into waiting times for suspected and diagnosed cancer patients published by the NHS show the target was missed for a full year in 2014-15, with 83.4% of patients being treated on time. Referrals for breast and skin cancers were closer to the targets than urological and lower gastrointestinal cancers, which have seen significant decreases.

Sara Hiom, Director of early diagnosis at the cancer charity has called for urgent action to ensure the NHS has all of the resources it needs to meet targets and provide patients with life-saving care, commenting: Patients want confidence that suspected cancer is taken seriously and prioritised by the NHS. These breaches have become a trend, and they are worsening.

According to the national clinical director for Cancer for the NHS in England, annual figures show over 1.5 million people were referred to a specialist by the NHS, 70% more than five years ago, and although more people are surviving cancer delays in referral and treatment can have a significant impact on the chances of recovery.

If you or a loved one has experienced a delay in treatment for cancer we may be able to help. The clinical negligence team at Longden, Walker and Renney pursue many medical negligence cases each year against hospitals nationwide.

For more information or to discuss your claim, contact our expert clinical negligence solicitors on 0191 5666 500 or via our enquiry form.