NHS urgent cancer referral targets missed for first time

Fran Woodard, Macmillan Cancer Support’s Director of Policy and Impact said: “Missing this target is a worrying indication of the NHS falling at the first hurdle of cancer care as performance slips under mounting pressure on the health system.“To be told you may have cancer and then be left waiting for those fears to be confirmed, or even allayed, can be incredibly traumatic for people and their families, and may cause concerning delays to treatment,” she said.The charity urged the Government to do more to improve cancer care, and to ensure earlier diagnosis and treatment of those with suspected cancer.A spokesperson from NHS England said: “NHS is now seeing nearly two million urgent GP referrals a year, with a record 14,000 people receiving their first treatment following an urgent referral in June, equating to an extra 130 people each week compared to last year.”Catching cancer earlier is vital, which is why the NHS is deliberately putting itself under pressure by significantly increasing the number of people referred for checks.” Just 80.8 per cent of cancer sufferers began treatment within 62 days, a fall from 82.3 per cent in the previous quarter.It means that a target for 85 per cent of cases to start treatment within this timeframe has now been missed for more than four years.Senior policy fellow Tim Gardner, from the charity Health Foundation which analysed the figures, said: “This data suggests the health service’s capacity to diagnose and treat those patients promptly has not kept pace with need and the 14 day wait target from GP referral for suspected cancer to first outpatient appointment has been missed for a whole quarter for the first time since records began in 2008/09.“This is concerning at a time of the year when the NHS should have some respite from winter pressures, and there is a similar picture of longer waits for emergency care and planned surgery as demand exceeds capacity.” Quarterly targets for patients with suspected cancer to see a hospital consultant within two weeks have been missed for the first time. GPs are supposed to identify patients whose symptoms suggest cancer for “urgent referral” to a hospital specialist.NHS targets state that 93 per cent of cases should be seen within a fortnight, so that tests and treatment can be started.But analysis reveals this target was missed for the whole quarter ending June 2018, with the worst performance since records began in 2008.In the latest quarter, 91.4 per cent of patients with suspected cancer urgently referred by a GP were seen within 14 days.The proportion of suspected cancer patients who started treatment within two months of being urgently referred by a GP also fell.Just 80.8 per cent of cancer sufferers began treatment within 62 days, a fall from 82.3 per cent in the previous quarter.It means that a target for 85 per cent of cases to start treatment within this time frame has now been missed for more than four years. Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings. Quarterly targets for patients with suspected cancer to see a hospital consultant within two weeks have been missed for the first time.GPs are supposed to identify patients whose symptoms suggest cancer for “urgent referral” to a hospital specialist.NHS targets state that 93 per cent of cases should be seen within a fortnight, so that tests and treatment can be started.But analysis reveals this target was missed for the whole quarter ending June 2018, with the worst performance since records began in 2008.In the latest quarter, 91.4 per cent of patients with suspected cancer urgently referred by a GP were seen within 14 days.The proportion of suspected cancer patients who started treatment within two months of being urgently referred by a GP also fell. read more