NHS cancer waiting times in 2018/19 the worst since targets were set

Health Foundation response to NHS monthly performance statistics

9 May 2019

Responding to the latest NHS Monthly Performance Statistics, Dr Becks Fisher, GP and Policy Fellow at the Health Foundation, said:

‘Despite repeated promises of improvement, NHS performance on cancer waiting times in 2018/19 is the worst since these targets were set. Last year was the fifth year in a row that the key 62 day waiting time target has been missed.

‘Improving cancer survival means diagnosing more cancers at an early stage, so the increasing numbers of patients being referred to rapid diagnostic pathways from GPs is good news. But cancer services aren’t keeping pace with the rising demand, often resulting in anxious waits for patients. Last year more than 178,000 people waited longer than the recommended 14 days for a first appointment with a cancer specialist, and over 34,000 waited more than 62 days for their first treatment.

‘Meeting the growing demand for referrals will require additional staff to address current shortages and investment in diagnostic equipment. But the NHS workforce implementation plan is yet to be published and there are no guarantees of extra funding for equipment in the next government spending review.

‘Without urgent action, promises of improved cancer care for patients in England will ring increasingly hollow.’

Media contact

Simon Perry
Simon.Perry@health.org.uk
020 7257 2093

Further reading

Research report

Unfinished business

What has changed in cancer care in England over the past two decades? What has worked well, or less well, and why?

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