Waiting times for cancer patients in 2023 are the worst on record in England

Waiting times for cancer patients in 2023 are the worst on record in England

  • By Nick Triggle
  • Health correspondent

Image source, Getty Images

Waiting times for cancer patients for 2023 in England were the worst on record, an analysis by BBC News has revealed.

Only 64.1% of patients started treatment within 62 days of suspecting cancer, meaning nearly 100,000 waited longer than they should have for life-saving care.

Wait times have gotten worse every year for the past 11 years.

Gemma Peters, chief executive of Macmillan Cancer Support, described these figures as “shocking”.

“This represents a new low and highlights the desperate situation of people with cancer,” she said.

“Behind these numbers, real lives are being turned upside down, with thousands of people waiting a very long time to find out if they have cancer and begin treatment, causing additional anxiety at an already very difficult time.

“With more than three million people in the UK living with cancer and an aging population, this number is expected to rise.”

Records go back to 2010, shortly after the cancer target was introduced.

However, improvements were made over the course of 2023 in how quickly patients were diagnosed, with 72% being told whether they had cancer or not within 28 days of urgent referral.

These numbers come after Monday’s announcement that the king had begun treatment after being diagnosed with cancer.

He is receiving treatment in a private hospital, after he was discovered to have cancer following treatment for prostate enlargement at the end of last month.

An NHS England spokesman said the number of people being treated for cancer has risen rapidly over the past decade or so.

He added: “Amid record pressures and the general impact of industrial action, NHS staff continue to work hard to prioritize the longest waits and the most urgent cases.”

Other parts of the UK are also struggling with waiting times for cancer patients.

It has been more than a decade since Wales, Northern Ireland or Scotland met their 62-day cancer targets.

Waiting time data for emergency cases and routine hospital treatments, such as knee and hip replacements, has also been released.

About 30% of patients waited longer than the target time of four hours in A&E in January, while numbers on the waiting list for treatment fell slightly in December to 7.6 million, below the all-time high of 7.77 million in December. End of September.

Tim Gardner, from the Health Foundation, said: “The NHS faces a difficult winter amid an increase in seasonal flu cases and continued industrial action.”

He said the reduction in the waiting list was welcome and a “testament to the hard work of staff”.

But he added: “Progress is slow, and waiting lists are very high.”

Data analysis by Megan Riddle

Have you faced a long wait for cancer treatment? Share your experiences via email hasyoursay@bbc.co.uk.

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