Three quarters of NHS services are FAILING to treat cancer patients quickly enough

Almost three quarters of NHS hospitals take more than two months to start patients’ cancer treatment, figures have revealed.

Hospital trusts in England are supposed to begin treatment within 62 days of a GP’s referral in 85 per cent of cases.

But last year only 37 out of 131 managed to hit that target, with 94 keeping seriously ill patients waiting longer.

In the worst performing health systems almost 40 per cent of people had to wait longer than they should, while that figure was less than five per cent in the best.

Experts warned the longer people are made to wait before starting their treatment, the longer it will take them to recover from the ordeal of having cancer.

Maidstone & Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust was the worst performing by the 62-day measure in 2018-19 but the health body said it has already made improvements which should see it hit the NHS's target by the summer

Maidstone & Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust was the worst performing by the 62-day measure in 2018-19 but the health body said it has already made improvements which should see it hit the NHS's target by the summer

Maidstone & Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust was the worst performing by the 62-day measure in 2018-19 but the health body said it has already made improvements which should see it hit the NHS’s target by the summer

Figures uncovered by the BBC show the number of hospital trusts leaving 15 per cent or more of people waiting too long has almost tripled since 2014.

Five years ago (2013/14) just 36 trusts were missing the 62-day target – that figure rose to 94 for 2018/19.

NHS England as a whole managed to treat just 79.4 per cent of people within 62 days of their urgent referral from a GP, while 32,000 people waited longer.

But there is wide variation among different areas of the country.

Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust, in Kent, was the worst performing, with just 60.8 per cent of people getting treatment within 62 days.

The hospital body insisted the situation there has improved since the figures were recorded.

A spokesperson said: ‘We have seen a large increase in demand with 23%per cent more suspected cancer referrals now than this time last year. 

PATIENTS MORE LIKELY THAN EVER TO WAIT MORE THAN TWO WEEKS TO SEE A CONSULTANT

NHS figures revealed that patients are now more likely to wait more than two weeks to see a consultant than at any other time on record.

At least 93 per cent of people should be seen by a cancer specialist within two weeks of being urgently referred by their GP, the NHS says.

But in April 2019 that figure was just 89.9 per cent, dropping below 90 per cent for the first time since stats began in 2009.

A record high of 19,963 people in England had to wait longer than two weeks to see a consultant after being sent by their doctor. 

‘We have made changes to our systems and processes as well as invested in additional staff and facilities to increase the number of patients we see, diagnose and treat. 

‘As a result, we have made significant improvements and are already in a much better place than the data published today shows. 

‘We are confident that we will hit the national 62 day wait cancer standard in the summer, in a sustainable way going forwards.’  

In all, 28 trusts failed to treat even three quarters of their patients on time – a measure that would still be significantly lower than the NHS target.

Wolverhampton, Weston, Southend, Bradford, University College London, Mid Essex, Hull and East Yorkshire and East and North Hertfordshire all treated fewer than 70 per cent of patients on time.

‘The longer people have to wait for diagnosis and get treatment, the longer it will impact them, their health and wellbeing and just getting through that experience,’ Macmillan Cancer Support’s Moira Fraser-Pearce told the BBC.

At the other end of the scale, the NHS in Kingston upon Thames smashed the target and treated 95.9 per cent of people within the 62-day limit.

Frimley, Bolton, Mid Cheshire and Tameside and Glossop all also posted figures higher than 90 per cent.

WHERE DID THE MOST PEOPLE START TREATMENT WITHIN 62 DAYS? 

  1. Kingston Hospital (95.9%)
  2. Frimley Health (93.6%)
  3. Mid Cheshire Hospitals (92.2%)
  4. Bolton (92.2%)
  5. Tameside & Glossop Integrated Care (90.3%)
  6. Dartford & Gravesham (89.5%)
  7. Wrightington, Wigan & Leigh (89.5%)
  8. Chelsea & Westminster Hospitals (89.4%)
  9. Epsom & St Helier University Hospitals (88.8%)
  10. Barnsley Hospital (88.7%)

WHERE DID THE FEWEST PEOPLE START TREATMENT WITHIN 62 DAYS? 

  1. Maidstone & Tunbridge Wells (60.8%)
  2. The Royal Wolverhampton (62.8%)
  3. Weston Area Health (67%)
  4. Southend University Hospital (67%)
  5. Bradford Teaching Hospitals (67.1%)
  6. University College London (68.4%)
  7. Mid Essex Hospital Services (68.5%)
  8. Hull & East Yorkshire Hospitals (69.2%)
  9. East & North Hertfordshire (69.2%)
  10. East Kent Hospitals University (70.7%)

Improving cancer survival rates is one of the NHS’s priorities and in its long-term plan this year it said investment would be ramped up in improving diagnostics.

New scanners, rapid diagnosis centres and more staff were all included in plans to boost survival rates. 

Monthly figures released today revealed the NHS’s performance has got worse on a number of other key measures.

These included an all-time low in the proportion of patients being seen by a cancer specialist within two weeks of a GP’s referral – the figure dropped below 90 per cent for the first time in April to 89.9 per cent.   

Two-week referrals for patients with breast symptoms also dropped to a record low of 75.5 per cent.

WHERE DID THE MOST FEWEST PATIENTS GET CANCER TREATMENT WITHIN 62 DAYS OF A GP REFERRAL IN 2018-19? (Source: BBC) 
NHS trust Total patients % within 62 days NHS trust Total patients % within 62 days
Maidstone & Tunbridge Wells 1,464.50 60.8 James Paget University Hospitals 714.5 81.6
The Royal Wolverhampton 1,269.50 62.8 The Queen Elizabeth Hospital King’s Lynn 790.5 81.7
Weston Area Health 379 67 City Hospitals Sunderland 1,032.50 81.8
Southend University Hospital 1,133.50 67 Medway 922.5 81.8
Bradford Teaching Hospitals 1,105 67.1 University Hospitals of North Midlands 2,117.50 81.9
University College London Hospitals 1,118 68.4 East Cheshire 392.5 81.9
Mid Essex Hospital Services 1,365 68.5 University Hospitals Coventry & Warwickshire 1,341.50 81.9
Hull & East Yorkshire Hospitals 1,984.50 69.2 Blackpool Teaching Hospitals 1,124 81.9
East & North Hertfordshire 1,461 69.2 The Princess Alexandra Hospital 663 82
East Kent Hospitals University 2,504.50 70.7 Surrey & Sussex Healthcare 1,112.50 82.1
Brighton & Sussex University Hospitals 1,501.50 71.2 Buckinghamshire Healthcare 1,066 82.3
Leeds Teaching Hospitals 2,485.50 71.3 South Tees Hospitals 1,919.50 82.5
Norfolk & Norwich University Hospitals 2,086 71.5 West Hertfordshire Hospitals 986 82.7
Royal Surrey County Hospital 1,030 71.6 The Dudley Group 1,131 82.9
Guy’s & St Thomas’ 1,620 71.7 North Bristol 1,541.50 82.9
Oxford University Hospitals 2,153.50 72.3 Poole Hospital 885.5 83.1
Worcestershire Acute Hospitals 2,137 72.3 Royal Berkshire 1,436 83.3
East Sussex Healthcare 1,408.50 72.7 Imperial College Healthcare 1,109 83.3
Royal Devon & Exeter 2,122.50 72.9 Royal United Hospitals Bath 1,322.50 83.4
University Hospital Southampton 1,842 73.2 Gateshead Health 780.5 83.5
United Lincolnshire Hospitals 2,093.50 73.3 East Lancashire Hospitals 1,358 83.6
Sheffield Teaching Hospitals 2,232 73.4 Milton Keynes University Hospital 773 83.8
Gloucestershire Hospitals 2,161.50 73.6 Chesterfield Royal Hospital 905 84.1
Plymouth Hospitals 2,119 73.8 Salisbury 757 84.1
Northern Lincolnshire & Goole 972 74 Portsmouth Hospitals 1,692.50 84.2
Pennine Acute Hospitals 1,457.50 74 West Suffolk 939 84.3
Isle of Wight 536.5 74.7 North Tees & Hartlepool 780 84.8
Royal Liverpool & Broadgreen University Hospitals 743 74.7 London North West Healthcare 1,086 84.9
East Suffolk & North Essex NHS Foundation Trust 2,103.50 75.1 Royal Cornwall Hospitals 1,729 85
University Hospitals of Leicester 2,840 75.2 The Hillingdon Hospitals 542.5 85.3
North Middlesex University Hospital 396 75.5 Walsall Healthcare 524.5 85.5
Basildon & Thurrock University Hospitals 1,160 76.2 University Hospitals Bristol 1,326 85.6
Bedford Hospital 818 76.8 The Royal Bournemouth & Christchurch Hospitals 1,510.50 85.7
Lewisham & Greenwich 1,028.50 77.1 Ashford & St Peter’s Hospitals 997 85.7
Taunton & Somerset 1,103 77.4 Great Western Hospitals 1,010 85.8
Aintree University Hospital 718 77.5 Doncaster & Bassetlaw Hospitals 1,028.50 85.8
Dorset County Hospital 835.5 77.6 Airedale 525 86.2
Northern Devon Healthcare 589.5 78.1 The Whittington Hospital 304.5 86.2
Northampton General Hospital 1,145 78.1 Harrogate & District 674.5 86.3
University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay 1,091.50 78.2 Kettering General Hospital 783.5 86.4
Southport & Ormskirk Hospital 484.5 78.2 South Tyneside 163.5 86.5
Hampshire Hospitals 1,406.50 78.3 Countess of Chester Hospital 740.5 86.6
Northumbria Healthcare 1,135 78.4 Barts Health 1,382.50 86.7
University Hospitals Of Derby & Burton NHS Foundation Trust 2,081 78.4 St George’s University Hospitals 782 86.7
The Newcastle Upon Tyne Hospitals 2,265 78.6 Sandwell & West Birmingham Hospitals 871 86.7
Stockport 674.5 78.7 Barking, Havering & Redbridge University Hospitals 1,535.50 87
Torbay & South Devon 1,106.50 78.9 County Durham & Darlington 1,415 87
George Eliot Hospital 361 78.9 Croydon Health Services 669.5 87.3
Royal Free London 1,626 79.4 Warrington & Halton Hospitals 497 87.3
York Teaching Hospital 1,643 79.4 Wirral University Teaching Hospital 1,084 87.7
North West Anglia 1,592.50 79.4 Luton & Dunstable University Hospital 777.5 87.7
Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust 1,683 79.5 Homerton University Hospital 356 87.8
University Hospitals Birmingham 2,806 79.5 Salford Royal 819.5 88.2
Shrewsbury & Telford Hospital 1,744.50 79.5 St Helens & Knowsley Hospital Services 1,020 88.3
King’s College Hospital 1,467.50 79.6 Calderdale & Huddersfield 1,152 88.6
Nottingham University Hospitals 2,009.50 79.6 Barnsley Hospital 582 88.7
Cambridge University Hospitals 1,627.50 79.8 Epsom & St Helier University Hospitals 834.5 88.8
Lancashire Teaching Hospitals 1,510.50 79.8 Chelsea & Westminster Hospital 699 89.4
South Warwickshire 783 79.9 Dartford & Gravesham 449.5 89.5
Western Sussex Hospitals 1,849.50 80.1 Wrightington, Wigan & Leigh 726 89.5
Wye Valley 683.5 80.5 Tameside & Glossop Integrated Care 528 90.3
Mid Yorkshire Hospitals 1,423 80.5 Mid Cheshire Hospitals 769 92.2
Yeovil District Hospital 678 80.8 Bolton 711 92.2
The Rotherham 701 81.4 Frimley Health 1,655 93.6
Sherwood Forest Hospitals 966 81.4 Kingston Hospital 740.5 95.9
North Cumbria University Hospitals 1,102 81.5 NB: It is unclear why some patient numbers end in .5

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