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Britain’s cancer postcode lottery laid bare: Just one in four patients are being seen within 62-day target in some NHS areas, analysis reveals


  • At Liverpool Women’s NHS Trust just 23% of patients were treated in 62 days
  • At Royal Papworth, 38% were seen within this timeframe, analysis shows

Just one in four cancer patients are being seen within the 62-day target in some areas, new research shows.

The ‘heart-wrenching’ gap between the best areas for getting treatment and the worst has been highlighted by analysis of data from the House of Commons Library by the Liberal Democrats.

The party is calling for an end to the ‘cancer care postcode lottery’ with a legal guarantee for cancer patients to receive treatment within 62 days.

This is currently the maximum amount of time patients are supposed to wait from an urgent suspected cancer referral or consultant upgrade to their first definitive treatment.

But at Liverpool Women’s NHS Trust just 23 per cent of patients were treated within the guidelines, while at Royal Papworth only 38 per cent were seen.

Over 30,000 people waited more than a month after being told they needed the likes of surgery, chemotherapy or radiotherapy, 'alarming' new data from NHS England reveals

Over 30,000 people waited more than a month after being told they needed the likes of surgery, chemotherapy or radiotherapy, ‘alarming’ new data from NHS England reveals

In all there were 31 NHS Trusts where more than four in 10 patients were not being treated within the 62 day limit.

By contrast, at the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital NHS Trust, 93 per cent of patients were treated within two-months, and at Calderdale and Huddersfield NHS Trust it was 88 per cent

The two-month target has been a government pledge since 2000, but hasn’t been met since 2015 and has never been written into law.

Last year, just 64 per cent of cancer patients started their treatment within the target timeframe, well below the government target of 85 per cent.

The Liberal Democrats are calling for the guarantee to be written into law.

The party’s Health and Social Care spokesperson, Daisy Cooper MP said: ‘It is heart-wrenching to see such a stark postcode lottery of cancer care across the country. 

‘We know how important it is to find and treat cancer early to give people the best chance of survival. Sadly, under this Conservative government, this is happening far too little.

‘Behind every single one of these numbers is a story of fear, discomfort and anxiety for thousands of families up and down the country.

‘This Conservative government has failed to prioritise cancer treatment times so people are simply not getting the care they need in time. 

‘It is a shameful indictment of their neglect of our health service.

‘Every patient should be entitled to a legal right to start their treatment within two-months to give them the best chance of beating this horrific disease.

‘We need urgent investment in cancer facilities in the NHS, including radiotherapy machines and more cancer nurses. 

‘It has to be a driving force behind our attitude to healthcare to get cancer patients the treatment they deserve.’

What do the latest NHS figures show? 

The overall waiting list shrunk by 6,266 to 7.6million in December. 

There were 282 people waiting more than two years to start, up from 227 in November. 

The number of people waiting more than a year to start hospital treatment was 337,450, down slightly on the 355,412 in the previous month.

Some 54,308 people had to wait more than 12 hours in A&E departments in England in January. The figure is up from 44,045 in December.

A total of 158,721 people waited at least four hours from the decision to admit to admission in January, up from 148,282 in December.

Just 70.3 per cent of patients were seen within four hours at A&Es last month. NHS standards set out that 95 per cent should be admitted, transferred or discharged within the four-hour window.



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