8 December 2016
Charity warns of a difficult winter ahead as NHS misses key cancer target for the 10th month running
Responding to waiting times published today by NHS England, which show 62-day waiting times have been breached for October 2016[i], Dr Moira Fraser, Director of Policy and Public Affairs at Macmillan Cancer Support said:
“October’s cancer waiting times figures from NHS England give us little cause for hope ahead of the difficult winter months. In all but one of the last 30 months, the NHS in England has missed a key target for treating people with suspected cancer within 62 days of an urgent referral[ii]. We’re worried that over the coming months thousands more people will join the 20,000 who have already waited too long for their treatment in 2016 so far.[iii]
“It’s terrible that so many people could have their Christmas overshadowed by anxious waiting. This season should be about spending quality time with friends and family, but thousands could be facing a long and distressing wait for their cancer diagnosis and treatment.”
- The number of people being referred and treated is increasing, while the performance against the target is not improving. This means the total number of people treated outside the target for October was 2,235 –the second highest number of people to wait for more than two months for cancer treatment in the past seven years (the highest was last month, at 2,244)[iv]
- This December, at least 150,000 people in England are estimated to be urgently referred by their GP for tests for suspected, and more than 20,000 to start their cancer treatment[v]
- In October 2016, almost one in five people (19%) waited more than 62 days to begin treatment following an urgent referral for suspected cancer from their GP [vi]
- This rises to one in three people with a lower gastrointestinal cancer such as bowel cancer (33%), and more than one in four people with lung cancer (27%)
- The 62-day target has been breached in every month of 2016 so far and has only been met three times since being breached in January 2014 (only three times in the past 34 months)
- More than half (56%) of trusts are in breach of the target
For further information, please contact:
Eleanor Wilkinson, Media & PR Officer, Macmillan Cancer Support
0207 091 2467 (out of hours 07801 307068)
Notes to Editors:
About Macmillan Cancer Support
When you have cancer, you don’t just worry about what will happen to your body, you worry about what will happen to your life. Whether it’s concerns about who you can talk to, planning for the extra costs or what to do about work, at Macmillan we understand how a cancer diagnosis can take over everything.
That’s why we’re here. We provide support that helps people take back control of their lives. But right now, we can’t reach everyone who needs us. We need your help to make sure that people affected by cancer get the support they need to face the toughest fight of their life. No one should face cancer alone, and with your support no one will.
To get involved, call 0300 1000 200 today. And please remember, we’re here for you too. If you’d like support, information or just to chat, call us free on 0808 808 00 00 (Monday to Friday, 9am–8pm) or visit macmillan.org.uk
[i] A wait of more than 62 days to begin their first definitive treatment following an urgent referral to suspected cancer from their GP.
NHS England. Cancer Waiting Times – National Time Series Oct 2009 – October 2016 (Provider based). Available from: https://www.england.nhs.uk/statistics/statistical-work-areas/cancer-waiting-times/. [Accessed December 8th 2016].
[ii] See note i.
[iii] The total so far for January 2016 to October 2016 is 20,950. The total for January 2015 to October 2015 was 20,130. Overall, 2016 is likely to be a record year for the number of people treated for cancer in total.
[iv] See note i.
[v] NHS England. Cancer waiting times. In December 2015, 146,808 people were seen under the ‘Two Week Wait From GP Urgent Referral to First Consultant Appointment’ waiting time target and 23,192 under the ‘One Month Wait from a Decision to Treat to a First Treatment for Cancer’ target. (this target stays the same) Our figures assume that the figures for December 2016 will be higher than the figures for December 2015 in line with the year-on-year increase in the number of cancer patients.
[vi] See note i. Figure refers to October 2016 data, where 81.1% of patients waited more than two months to start treatment, which is outside the operational standard.