Home Health More than 380,000 cancer patients have faced “routine” delays in starting treatment since 2015

More than 380,000 cancer patients have faced “routine” delays in starting treatment since 2015

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More than 380,000 cancer patients have faced a

More than 380,000 cancer patients have faced “unspeakable suffering” as a result of treatment delays over the past decade, a charity has warned.

Cancer Research UK said failing to comply with the 62-day waiting time to start cancer treatment is costing lives.

They said the general election must be “a turning point for cancer” or it could erode decades of progress in the fight against the disease.

It comes as a separate report from the Royal College of Radiologists (RCR) said delays in cancer care have become “routine”.

Nearly half of cancer centers reported weekly delays in providing treatments such as chemotherapy, despite evidence that each month of delay can increase the risk of death by 10 percent.

More than 380,000 cancer patients have faced “untold suffering” as a result of treatment delays over the past decade, a charity has warned (file image)

The university described a “staggering” shortfall of 30 percent in clinical radiologists and 15 percent in clinical oncologists, hampering timely care, and both are expected to worsen in the coming years.

Cancer Research UK analyzed data on the number of patients in England who started treatment more than 62 days after being referred urgently for suspected cancer.

This key NHS target – for 85 per cent of people to start treatment for their cancer within this period – was last met in December 2015.

The proportion of patients in England who waited no more than 62 days for their first cancer treatment in March was 68.7 per cent, and figures for April will be published later today.

Despite recent improvements, he blamed a lack of workers and a lack of diagnostic equipment, such as CT and MRI scanners, for failing to meet demand.

Michelle Mitchell, chief executive of Cancer Research UK, said around 2.2 million people across the UK are expected to be diagnosed with cancer in the next parliament.

Describing the added anxiety of the delays, he said: ‘Each of these numbers is a friend, family member and loved one facing unbearably long waits for their treatment to start, causing stress and anxiety.

‘The general election must be a turning point for cancer. Almost one in two people will suffer from cancer in their lifetime and it affects every family in every community.

“Any incoming UK government must make the fight against cancer a top priority and commit to meeting all cancer waiting time targets by the end of the next parliament.”

The RCR reports were based on surveys of UK cancer center heads and clinical directors of radiology departments, all of whom responded.

The responses showed that the number of cancer centers experiencing serious delays has nearly doubled in a year, from 28 to 47 percent.

The situation is similar for radiotherapy: weekly treatment delays almost double from 22 percent in 2022 to 43 percent in 2023.

Nearly all (97 percent) clinical directors surveyed said workforce shortages were causing backlogs and delays in their workplaces, and that demand “far exceeded” the capacity of the oncology workforce.

Dr Katharine Halliday, RCR President, said: “Today’s reports reveal a stark reality: the crisis in radiology and oncology workforce is putting patients’ health at risk.”

‘Despite our dedication to providing the best possible care, severe workforce shortages are significantly hampering our efforts.

“We simply do not have enough doctors to safely care for the growing number of patients, and this problem will only get worse as demand continues to increase and more doctors leave the NHS.”

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The typical age of consultants leaving the workforce has decreased, from 57 years old in 2021 to 54 years old in 2023, and one-third of consultants leaving the workforce are under 45 years old.

Dr Halliday said this was a result of doctors “working under extreme stress” and urged the new government to implement a forward-looking strategy to recruit, train and retain staff.

Mairaid McMahon, policy director at Macmillan Cancer Support, said: “The Royal College of Radiologists’ latest census once again highlights the significant shortages that persist in the cancer workforce.

“These shortages have a negative impact on patient care, cause delays in diagnosis and treatment, and could lead to worse outcomes for people with cancer.”

The RCR reports were based on responses from all 60 UK cancer centers with radiotherapy services, as well as every health board or NHS acute trust that employs clinical radiologists, making it the most comprehensive snapshot of the oncology workforce in the UK.

Professor Pat Price, leading oncologist and co-founder of the Catch Up With Cancer campaign, said: “These cancer statistics tell a deadly story of delays in crucial care for cancer patients.

‘Whoever forms the new Government must recognize that there is a cancer crisis and take radical steps to tackle it.

And that action must include a new cancer-specific plan, backed by investment in people and technology in crucial areas of cancer treatment, such as radiotherapy.

‘Cancer patients not receiving their treatment on time is a disaster that cannot be allowed to continue into the next parliament.

“Anything less than this, we will never emerge from the cancer crisis.”

An NHS spokesperson said: “The NHS is caring for and treating a record number of people with cancer – 30 per cent more people were treated last year than in 2015/16 and almost 3 million people received cancer checks. that could save their lives in the last 12 months. Ensure that more people than ever have been diagnosed at an early stage and that cancer survival is at an all-time high.

‘It is vital that people come forward if they are worried about cancer symptoms. Getting an early checkup saves lives.”

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