Op de­lays hit 13-year high as can­cer re­fer­rals plum­met

Metro (UK) - - NEWS -

NEARLY 1. mil­lion peo­ple have waited longer than 18 weeks for hospi­tal treat­ment – the high­est fig­ure since 2007, new fig­ures show.

And ur­gent can­cer re­fer­rals dropped 7 per cent, NHS Eng­land data shows. Over­all 1, 8,3 7 peo­ple had waited more than four months for treat­ment in May – up from 76,237 a year ago.

The fig­ure was also a jump from 1,132,602 a month ear­lier.

Just 62.2 per cent of pa­tients were seen within 18 weeks in May – the tar­get is 9 per cent.

Some 106, 3 ur­gent can­cer re­fer­rals were made by GPs, down from 200, 99 over the same pe­riod a year ago.

And breast can­cer re­fer­rals showed an even big­ger drop: down from 1 ,802 in May 2019 to ,371 this year.

Dr Nick Scriven, for­mer pres­i­dent of the So­ci­ety for Acute Medicine, said the data showed NHS per­for­mance across the board ‘clearly con­tin­ues to be hugely af­fected by Covid-19’.

‘We must re­mem­ber per­for­mance has been poor for a lot longer than that and ques­tions need to be an­swered as to how we en­sure the sus­tain­able fu­ture of the ser­vice,’ he added.

He also raised con­cerns ‘about the grow­ing cri­sis in ac­cess­ing di­ag­nos­tic tests’, as 71, 9 had waited six weeks or more for pro­ce­dures such as MRI scans and ul­tra­sounds.

The data also showed 26,029 peo­ple

had waited more than a year for their treat­ment to start – up from 1,032 in May 2019 and the high­est monthly leap since Septem­ber 2009.

Due to the pan­demic, just ,0 pa­tients were ad­mit­ted for rou­tine treat­ments, an 82 per cent drop from a year ago when the fig­ure was 29 ,881.

But an NHS spokesman said staff had man­aged to pro­vide ‘more than

mil­lion ur­gent tests, checks and treat­ment in a safe way dur­ing the peak of the virus’.

‘The over­all wait­ing list has fallen by more than 00,000 since the on­set of Covid, but, as more pa­tients come for­ward, lo­cal health ser­vices con­tinue work to ex­pand ser­vices safely,’ he added.

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