Now for the bad news as cancer care hits ‘worst ever’ performance

Barely had the BBC headlines trumpeting the achievement of virtually eliminating 2-year waits for NHS treatment in England faded from TV and radio news bulletins before the appalling revelations on worsening cancer treatment times were flagged up.

Figures leaked to the HSJ and shared with BBC’s Newsnight team showed almost a third of a million people (327,000) are on cancer waiting lists in England, almost 40,000 of them waiting for treatment to begin more than 62 days after a GP referral.

Worse still numbers waiting over 104 days have more than doubled in a year, to more than 10,000: in 2018, NHSE said there should be “zero tolerance [of] non-clinically justifiable 104-day delays”.

Despite a ridiculous statement from NHS England, apparently dictated by Department of Health and Social Care spin doctors, diverting attention from the desperate under-resourcing of cancer care by claiming to be investing “billions in extra diagnostic and treatment capacity,” the BBC report quotes Prof Pat Price from Imperial College London warning that:

“The waits for cancer treatment are the worst they’ve ever been – and they’re getting worse. We have to get on and address this crisis. This is an absolute disaster.”

Indeed the most recent official cancer waiting time figures show how far performance has fallen back in the past year, even as the peak of the pandemic has passed.

Full story in The Lowdown, 12 August 2022