The NHS has failed to hit its target of a 62-day maximum waiting time for cancer therapy for more than 69,000 cases in England, Northern Ireland, and Scotland last year.
According to BBC analysis, this equates to twice as many patients being let down by long waiting times compared with 2017-18.
Macmillan Cancer Support’s Steven McIntosh said this is “unacceptable”, adding: “The NHS doesn’t have the staff it needs to diagnose cancer, to deliver surgery and treatment, to provide care, support and rehabilitation.”
For some cancer patients, this could mean the difference between life and death, as diagnoses are being missed, and people are not being treated quickly enough.
The BBC stated the disruption to services during the pandemic, as well as a huge number of people not getting checked out because they feared catching Covid-19 or putting too much pressure on the NHS, are to blame for this backlog of cases.
Cancer Research explains that 85 per cent of patients should begin their treatment within two months of an urgent suspected cancer referral, which includes being referred to a specialist for tests, a diagnosis, and cancer therapy commencing.
However, only 60 per cent of patients are starting their treatment within the 62 days. The charity also reported that the last time the goal was achieved was December 2015.
The main reason for this delay is shortage of medical employees, with Cancer Research saying: “From staff to do scans and biopsies, to pathologists with the skills to review blood samples and cells, from doctors who can manage patients to teams who handle the admin – the NHS is short of people.”
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