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Figures show more people with cancer in England are waiting longer for treatment

RCN says nurses ‘see at first hand the distress that breaching the target causes patients’

RCN says nurses ‘see at first hand the distress that breaching the target causes patients’


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A key waiting-time target for cancer treatment in England has been missed by the largest amount since records began in October 2009. 

Performance figures for July 2018, released by NHS England, show that only 78.2% of patients who had been urgently referred by their GP for cancer treatment had received the required care within 62 days.

The government’s waiting-time target for this treatment is 85% of patients.

‘Untold stress and misery’

RCN England director Tom Sandford said the figure was a cause of concern.

‘This bald statistic represents untold stress and misery for thousands of patients and their families,’ he said.

‘The 62-day limit isn’t an arbitrary figure but was recommended by clinicians as the best way to try to halt progression of the disease.

‘Cancer nurses see at first hand the distress that breaching the target causes patients.’

Increasing pressure on the NHS

Macmillan Cancer Support executive director of policy and impact Fran Woodard echoed the RCN’s concern.

‘Despite the best efforts of hard-working nurses and doctors, these missed targets are disappointing and indicative of the immense pressure on the NHS workforce,’ she said.

A spokesperson for NHS England suggested that an increase in the number of referrals for treatment was behind the missed target, and that more people were receiving care than previously.

‘Thanks to the hard work of our staff, the NHS is treating a record number of cancer patients in England – nearly 2,000 more in July than the same month last year – which means more people getting care,’ the spokesperson said.


Further information about the NHS England data


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