Cancer Research UK has said that the UK Government needs to invest more into the NHS. Failings in diagnosing and treating Cancer is leaving tens of thousands of people across England without the help and treatment they need.

In 2021 the Government had introduced a new Faster Diagnostic Standard (FDS). The aim was that you should not wait more than 28 days from referral to finding out whether you had cancer or not. The scheme applies to people referred by their GP for suspected cancer, breast symptoms where cancer is not suspected or following an abnormal screening result.

After receiving a diagnosis there are then waiting times to treatment. In England, Scotland and Northern Island you should have no more than 62 days wait between the date the hospital receives the urgent referral and the start of treatment. There should then be no more than 31 days wait between the agreed treatment plan and the start of treatment.

Recent NHS England statistics however have shown that the number pf people waiting more than the 62-day treatment target, over the last year, has reached 67,000. Whilst the National Cancer Director for NHS England says efforts are being made to catch up on the backlog, the problems with such a backlog may be putting patients lives at risk.

NHS England collects data on a weekly basis from hospitals to establish how many patients are waiting more than 62 days following an urgent suspected Cancer referral. The data includes those waiting for treatment, on a cancer pathway, or those waiting for cancer to be ruled out. This data, which is published monthly is known as the ‘Backlog of Patients waiting longer than 62 days from an urgent referral for suspected Cancer’. The data shows that so many cancer patients are not being treated on time. Of the 33,510 total number of patients for w-e Oct 2 2022, 29,196 were without a decision to treat. In comparison only 4,314 patients were with a decision to treat.

Delays are in part caused by a lack of staff, with a shortfall in cancer doctors and the appropriate staff to deliver diagnosis, surgery, treatment, care, and rehabilitation. This also comes at an unprecedented time as nurses across the UK vote in favour of strike action. NHS England commenting on their NHS Long Term Plan continue to expand on their work to transform Cancer care. It is their aim that from 2028 an extra 55,000 people each year will survive for 5 years or mor following a cancer diagnosis, with three in four (75%) of cancers diagnosed in early stages. NHS England acknowledge that earlier diagnosis is critical to meeting their survival ambition. Patients however still need to receive treatment when there is a better chance of achieving complete cure.

Delays in diagnosis and treatment can often lead to a detrimental impact on life expectancy. With this comes an emotional landscape of guilt, anger and often bereavement. For patients looking to make Medical Negligence Claims due to delays in Cancer diagnosis or treatment it can be a daunting and difficult process. Such claims may be considered controversial as they may not present themselves as the standard ‘negligence claim’ but instead are borne out of the staffing issues and delays suffered by the NHS.

If you are affected by issues covered here please contact PHH Solicitors dedicated Medical Negligence team on 01253 778231.