NHS England’s latest quarterly national statistics on waiting times for suspected and diagnosed cancer patients accessing NHS services have been released today. The statistics cover waiting times between a referral by a GP for suspected cancer and being seen by a specialist, as well as time before the first treatment.
The figures show that in England, during the period April to June 2015, 93.6% of people were seen by a specialist within two weeks of an urgent GP referral for suspected cancer. This is above NHS England’s target of 93% but down from 94.7% in the final quarter of 2014/15.
During the same period, 82% of people began their first definitive treatment within 62 days following an urgent referral by their GP. This figure is well below the operational standard of 85% and slightly down from the previous quarter.
Chris West, Head of Media and Public Affairs at Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research, said: ‘‘The direction of these figures is very concerning, as we know that for many patients prompt referral and fast access to treatment once blood cancer has been diagnosed is crucial to improving outcomes.
‘‘Our own Patient Need research has also confirmed that blood cancer patients tend to consult their GP more times before being referred to hospital and are more likely to be diagnosed after emergency presentation than many other cancers.’’
‘‘One of the reasons for this is what patients have described as a ‘crisis in awareness’. There is a lack of public awareness and understanding of many of the individual diseases, as well as the collective term ‘blood cancer’. To address this, we will be launching the UK’s biggest ever blood cancer awareness campaign this September, to increase public awareness of blood cancer and ensure patients know that we are here to beat them.’’