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Articles 19th Dec 2022

Cancer care wait times continue to put thousands of lives at risk

Concerns are inevitably growing as the wait time for cancer care continues to increase significantly.

Statistics published in a recent BBC article show that in the past year there has been twice as many patients waiting for more than the 62 day target time than those waiting in 2017-2018. Urgent cancer referrals should be given an appointment within 2 weeks however an increasing number of patients are having to wait up to 10 weeks to be seen. Steven McIntosh, of Macmillan Cancer Support, notes that the delays are “traumatic” and people are living “day-by-day with fear and anxiety”.

The BBC article also detailed how wait times differed between individual NHS Trusts and regions across the UK. Amongst the most shocking figures are that of the University Hospitals of Derby and Burton NHS Foundation Trust where 48% of patients are waiting over the 62 day target date. This percentage is exceeded by the University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Trust whose percentage is a staggering 63%.

The prolonged wait for cancer care is undoubtedly having an impact on diagnosis and treatment. For some patients the situation is likely to have lessened or possibly even eliminated their chances of survival. Cancer treatment is not alone in reaching dangerously long wait times. like many other areas of the NHS, the wait times for cancer care are suffering due to the ongoing NHS staff shortages, the back log caused by the covid-19 pandemic and the recurrent budget cuts suffered by NHS England. The national cancer director for NHS England assured the BBC that staff were striving to catch up on the backlog of care although it is questionable as to how this will be achieved without the necessary financial changes.

As a result of the above, we are seeing an increased number of cases where there has been delay in diagnosis for cancer and/or further delays in receiving the necessary treatment. Freeths have considerable experience with clinical negligence claims, including negligent treatment provided by primary care healthcare professionals. If you are concerned about care which you or a loved one have received, please contact a member of our team for a free, informal discussion:

The BBC article referred to above can be found at Cancer care delays: How bad are they in your area? – BBC News

The content of this page is a summary of the law in force at the date of publication and is not exhaustive, nor does it contain definitive advice. Specialist legal advice should be sought in relation to any queries that may arise.

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