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Lib Dems call for urgent plan to improve cancer care

May 18, 2022 2:30 PM
Crisis in cancer care: Third of patients facing two month waits for treatment
  • Lib Dems call for urgent plan to improve cancer care after NHS targets missed in worst ever performance

  • Over 2,000 people are missing out on a timely diagnosis every day while 15,000 are left waiting two months or more to start treatment

  • Ministers accused of "sitting on their hands" while people are being left in pain

The Liberal Democrats have called on the Government to come forward with an urgent strategy to improve cancer care, after new statistics revealed that NHS England has yet again missed all four of its major targets for cancer waiting times.

Analysis by the party shows that from January to March 2022, nearly 150,000 people waited longer than two weeks to see a consultant after an urgent referral from their GP, or an average of 1,600 per day.

It means only 78% of people saw a consultant within two weeks of a GP referral, way below the NHS target of 93%.

The figures also show that almost 200,000 or 29.5% of people waited longer than 28 days to get a cancer diagnosis from their specialist after an urgent referral from a GP. This means the target of 75% of people getting their diagnosis within this time was missed and that the equivalent of over 2,000 people per day missed out on a timely diagnosis.

Over 6,000 (7.7%) patients waited a month or more to begin their first treatment after a decision to treat the cancer, almost double the 4% target.

Meanwhile, 15,000 or over one third of people waited two months or more to start cancer treatment after a referral from their GP. This means a target of 85% of people starting treatment within that period is being badly missed by 21 points.

It comes after no reference was made to improving cancer care in last week's Queen's Speech. Liberal Democrat MP Tim Farron has tabled an amendment to the Queen's Speech, calling for a comprehensive strategy to be put forward on how the Government plans to meet a commitment for 80% of patients to be seen within two months by 2023. The party is also calling for the Government to hire more health staff, particularly specialist cancer nurses.

Commenting, Liberal Democrat MP Tim Farron said:

"This Conservative Government has no real plan to fix the crisis in cancer waiting times. Ministers are sitting on their hands while people are being left in pain, or have to watch their loved ones suffering.

"The Conservatives have taken the NHS for granted for years and have their heads in the sand over huge staff shortages. The Queen's Speech didn't mention cancer care and Boris Johnson hasn't even brought forward any new legislation to tackle this mess.

"He needs to bring forward a plan now - people bravely battling cancer deserve far better than being abandoned by a Government that doesn't do enough to ease their burden."