9 March 2017
New data published today by NHS England reveals how long cancer patients have to wait from the moment they are urgently referred from their GP with suspected cancer to getting first treatment. The data shows that the NHS missed its 62-day waiting time target for January 2017.
While it was expected that this target would be missed again, the figures released today show that the proportion of people treated within 62 days has fallen below 80% for the first time since the target was introduced1.
Fran Woodard, Executive Director of Policy and Impact at Macmillan Cancer Support, says:
“The last thing someone needs when they’re reeling from the shock of a cancer diagnosis is to have to wait months to start treatment – so it is very dispiriting to see cancer waiting times in January 2017 were the worst on record. The fact that almost 1,000 people in January had waited over three months is incredibly worrying2.
“Delays to cancer treatment are a sign of the huge pressure on the NHS and its workforce. The Government has committed to improving cancer services, but clearly urgent action is required to make sure people don’t face unacceptable delays. This highlights why delivering the England Cancer Strategy is so critical, and now the promised money must reach the frontline and make a real difference to cancer patients.”
- Performance against the 62-day waiting time target in England has dropped below 80% for the first time on record, meaning in January this year one in five cancer patients (20.3%) – almost 2,500 people3 - had to wait more than two months for their treatment to start
- Almost 1,000 people waited for more than three months for treatment to start
- Performance is below 70% for both lung and lower gastrointestinal cancer
- More than half of hospital trusts (58%) missed the target in January4
For further information, please contact:
Eleanor Wilkinson, Media & PR Officer, Macmillan Cancer Support
02070912407 (out of hours 07801 307068)
Notes to Editors:
1. A wait of more than 62 days to begin their first definitive treatment following an urgent referral to suspected cancer from their GP. The national operational standard is for 85% of patients to be treated within the 62-day target
NHS England. Cancer Waiting Times – National Time Series Oct 2009 – January 2017 (Provider based). Available from: https://www.england.nhs.uk/statistics/statistical-work-areas/cancer-waiting-times/. [Accessed March 9th 2017].
2. 981 people waited 63 days or more from referral to first treatment
3. 2,347 people waited outside the 62 day target
4. Of all trusts in England who treated 5 or more cancer patients in January