Can­cer pa­tient was wait­ing 541 days be­fore be­ing treated

Daily Mail - - One Day To Go ... - By So­phie Bor­land Health Ed­i­tor

‘Los­ing con­trol of care’

SOME can­cer pa­tients wait well over a year for treat­ment af­ter be­ing re­ferred by their GP, with one en­dur­ing a 541-day de­lay.

An­other waited 446 days and a third was not treated for 361 days, even though NHS guide­lines state can­cer pa­tients should wait no longer than 62 days.

But two thirds of hos­pi­tals that pro­vided fig­ures for the Free­dom of In­for­ma­tion re­quest – 58 out of 88 trusts – said at least one pa­tient had waited more than six months.

How­ever, the hos­pi­tals con­cerned said that some of these pa­tients had not in­tended to have treat­ment. Some were on care plans in which they were scanned, only be­ing treated once tu­mours grew or spread.

Labour, which ob­tained the fig­ures, ac­cused the Gov­ern­ment of ‘los­ing con­trol’ of can­cer treat­ment.

Jonathan Ash­worth, the party’s health spokesman, said: ‘The num­ber of peo­ple need­ing treat­ment has risen sharply and the Gov­ern­ment has failed to in­crease avail­abil­ity of ser­vices at the rate re­quired.

‘The bril­liant efforts of NHS staff are be­ing hampered by tight NHS bud­gets. Years of un­der­fund­ing and ab­ject fail­ure to in­vest in the front­line doc- tors and nurses we need means Theresa May is let­ting down can­cer pa­tients.’

Grow­ing num­bers of pa­tients are be­ing di­ag­nosed with can­cer be­cause the pop­u­la­tion is age­ing – and the dis­ease is more com­mon in old age. In ad­di­tion, med­i­cal ad­vances mean that more pa­tients are sur­viv­ing can­cer or liv­ing for years with tu­mours that would pre­vi­ously have been ter­mi­nal. This all places an ex­tra strain on the NHS’s can­cer ser­vices.

Royal De­von and Ex­eter Hos­pi­tal said a pa­tient waited 541 days for treat­ment in 2017, although a spokesman said this was prob­a­bly be­cause they had not ini­tially wanted treat­ment, but were forced to when their con­di­tion wors­ened.

An­other pa­tient at Hull and East Yorkshire Hos­pi­tals NHS Trust waited 446 days to be treated for lung can­cer last year. But the hos­pi­tal said the pa­tient was ini­tially put on a ‘watch and wait’ pro­gramme and had reg­u­lar scans until their tu­mours be­came more ag­gres­sive. Andrew Kaye, from Macmil­lan Can­cer Sup­port, said: ‘De­spite the tire­less work of doc­tors and nurses, it ap­pears that some can­cer pa­tients are still en­dur­ing shock­ingly long waits.

‘Long de­lays can put peo­ple un­der in­cred­i­ble stress at an al­ready dif­fi­cult time, and could mean some­one’s health could take a turn for the worse.’

A Depart­ment of Health and So­cial Care spokesman said: ‘No­body should wait longer than nec­es­sary for treat­ment and, de­spite a 115 per cent in­crease in referrals since 2010, the vast ma­jor­ity of peo­ple start treat­ment within 62 days .’

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