Official figures for 2014 show that NHS cancer targets have not been met at least the last four quarters.
The target in question is that 85% of cancer patients should begin their treatment within 62 days of the initial referral from their GP. However, last year between October and December only 83.8% of patients were treated within the correct timescale.
Officials at the NHS are currently in the process on analysing the results to see if there are any problems.
When it comes to cancer, it is of paramount importance that patients are diagnosed and treated as early as possible as this greatly increases the chances of recovery and the NHS has targets in place to facilitate this.
Certain other targets, including the “two-week wait target” are being met. This involves ensuring that 93% of cancer patients are seen by a specialist within 14 days of being referred by their GP. In fact, the latest figures show that 44,000 more patients are being seen by a specialist within this timeframe compared to the year before.
However, it is in the speed of patients receiving treatment where there is currently cause for concern. In the previous quarter the official figures show not only that the targets are not being met, but that there is an inconsistency between the speeds that different types of cancer are treated. The following figures show the percentage of patients with different types of cancers who were treated within the 62 day target.
- breast cancer – 96.5%
- lung cancer – 76.2%
- lower gastrointestinal cancer – 73.8%
- urological cancers – 79.2%
- skin cancers – 94.6%
NHS England’s national clinical director for cancer, Sean Duffy was happy that patients were being seen quickly by a specialist, but said that they are “closely scrutinising these figures to pinpoint any issues on the ground.”
He added: “We have also created an independent taskforce to develop a plan to improve prevention, diagnosis and treatment over the next five years, with the aim of saving thousands more lives.”