Luciana Berger, Labour’s Shadow Public Health Minister, responding to NHS England figures showing that the cancer waiting time target has been missed for the second successive quarter, said:
“These figures are yet another warning sign that the NHS is heading in the wrong direction.
“David Cameron claimed his NHS re-organisation would improve cancer care. The reality is that he has in fact made it worse.
“Families across England are facing longer, agonising waits for treatment and experts are warning that lives will be put at risk.
“It is now clear that David Cameron’s re-organisation has caused real damage to patient care. You can’t trust the Tories with the NHS.”
Quarterly Cancer Waiting time figures published by NHS England today, show that the two month (62-day) urgent GP referral waiting time has been breached for the second quarter in a row:
The operational standard for this requirement specifies that 85% of patients should wait a maximum of 62 days to begin their first definitive treatment following an urgent referral for suspected cancer from their GP. In Quarter 1 2014-15, 31,929 patients began first definitive treatment for cancer following an urgent GP referral. 84.1% of these patients were treated within 62 days (two months) of referral, compared to 86.9% in Q1 2013-14 The proportion of patients in Quarter 1 2014-15 waiting 62 days or less was lower for admitted patients (83.4%) than for those were not admitted (85.3%). The national operational standard has been breached in Q1 2014-15 by 0.9 percentage points. This is the second quarter that has breached in a row after Q4 2013-14 fell below the operational standard by 0.6 percentage points.
NHS England, 29 August 2014, Statistics on Waiting Times for Suspected and Diagnosed Cancer Patients Q1 2014-15 Key Points – Provider Based, 29 August 2014, Pg. 10
The figures also show that the two week wait target for symptomatic breast patients (where cancer is not initially suspected) has also been breached for the first time since 2009/10:
Those patients urgently referred with breast symptoms (where cancer was not initially suspected) should experience a maximum waiting time of two weeks to see a specialist. This maximum waiting time requirement was introduced in Quarter 4 2009/10, when 92% of patients were seen within 2 weeks of referral. The operational standard for this measure is 93% In total, 60,811 patients with exhibited breast symptoms, where cancer was not initially suspected, were seen in Quarter 1 2014-15 after being urgently referred. Of these, 90.3% were seen within 14 days, compared to 93.9% in Q4 2013-14, and 95.4% in Q1 2013-14. This is the first time the two week wait for symptomatic breast patients (where cancer was not initially suspected) performance has been below the operational standard since Q4 2009/10, which was the first quarter the standard became operational.
NHS England, 29 August 2014, Statistics on Waiting Times for Suspected and Diagnosed Cancer Patients Q1 2014-15 Key Points – Provider Based, 29 August 2014, Pg. 4