Cancer treatment waiting time target missed, says NHS England


Some cancer patients are having to wait longer than the target time to see a consultant and begin treatment, figures from NHS England have shown.

The standard waiting time for beginning definitive treatment within 62 days was not met, with 81.4% of patients receiving treatment within that time - short of the 85% standard. 

The waiting times for patients with breast symptoms - where cancer was not initially suspected - were also below the standard, as 92.9% of patients were seen by a consultant within 14 days from an urgent GP referral. The standard is 93%.

Dr Barbara Hakin, National Director of Commissioning Operations for NHS England, said: "Having recently published the report of the independent cancer taskforce, we plan to take comprehensive action on cancer care, improving survival rates and saving thousands more lives.

"In the last five years the number of cancer referrals has leapt by 645,000 or 71%, meaning GPs are increasingly spotting the warning signs early and referring people for tests. We are diagnosing and treating more people than ever before and, as a result, more people than ever are surviving cancer. We continue to treat the vast majority of patients within a month, whether that's surgery, radiotherapy or drugs.

"As these statistics and new performance standards demonstrate, throughout the NHS patients are getting better care than ever before, and they are getting it when they need it and where they need it."

The figures were released with statistics on A&E waiting times and referral to treatment, for the first time today, after NHS England national medical director Sir Bruce Keogh suggested the data was released on the same day.