Cancer Research says too many patients wait too long after an urgent GP referral, and that there “just aren’t enough people” in the NHS to carry out tests.
NHS England figures show that only 77% of NHS Scarborough and Ryedale CCG patients received their first cancer treatment within 62 days of a GP urgent referral in August. This is down from 80% in August last year.
The NHS has a target for 85% of all referrals to start treatment within two months.
Matt Case, Cancer Research UK’s policy manager, said: “Too many patients are waiting too long after an urgent GP referral to get a diagnosis and start treatment. It’s already a stressful time for them, and delays can make that even worse.
“Diagnosing more cancers at an early stage is impossible without more people being referred for tests. But despite NHS staff working harder than ever, there just aren’t enough people to deliver the number of tests needed.
“These figures give us a monthly reminder of how much pressure the NHS is under.”
The figures also show that there is now a record number of patients missing out on the two-week target from referral to a consultant appointment across the country.
In Scarborough and Ryedale, 82% of patients had their first consultant appointment within two weeksdespite a 93% target.
Moira Fraser-Pearce, director of policy, campaigns and influence at Macmillan Cancer Support, said: “It is unacceptable that nationwide record numbers of patients are now missing out on the two-week referral target.”
A Department of Health and Social Care spokesman pointed out that the number of patients being urgently referred for suspected cancer has more than doubled in 2018-19 compared to 2009-10, as well as “tens of thousands” of additional doctors and nurses in the NHS who are “all working tirelessly to deliver excellent, safe care”.