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NHS misses cancer wait time targets for nearly three years


13 January 2017

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The NHS has been unable to meet its target for cancer waiting times for nearly three years according to new data.

The cancer waiting times data released every month by NHS England shows that nearly 25,000 people had to wait longer than the targeted 62 days for treatment in the past year.

The target has now been missed for 11 months in a row and has only been met four times in three years.

The data shows that in November 2016 a record number of people, 12,808, were referred by their GP to start their first treatment for cancer in England and a record number waited for more than two months for treatment to start at 2,271.

Fran Woodard, executive director of policy and impact at Macmillan Cancer Support, says: “Nobody should have to go through such a stressful experience for a day longer than is necessary and experts believe it could also affect someone’s chance of survival.

“With today’s results also showing that a record number of people are now being treated for cancer, urgent action is needed now.”

Other operational data released for November also shows an increase in A&E attendances by 4.5% on the previous year, while the 4-hour waiting time standard was not met. Emergency admissions also rose by 3.5%.

Saffron Cordery, director of policy and strategy at NHS Providers, said: “These figures pre-date the extraordinary pressures we’ve seen since the run-up to Christmas. But they show as we headed into winter, the NHS was already working flat out to deal with a relentless rise in demand.

She added: “Despite increased activity almost all the major performance targets were missed. Even in the autumn it was clear the pressure was unsustainable. There is a fundamental gap between what the NHS is being asked to deliver and its funding levels. We need to acknowledge this and debate what to do about it.”

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