Stephen Fry features in NHS cancer awareness campaign
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Over 18,000 patients who have been given an urgent referral for suspected cancer in the last year waited at least 100 days to start treatment. According to charities, the figures which have doubled since the pandemic are having catastrophic consequences.
Britain already has one of the worst survival rates for cancer among comparable countries including France, Germany, Italy, Canada and the United States.
For every four week delay to starting treatment survival can be reduced by 10 percent, according to research.
NHS figures for a 12 month period ending in October 2022 showed 18,679 patients who had an urgent referral for suspected cancer waited at least 104 days for treatment.
In comparison, the figure was 8,820 in the 12 months that ended in October 2019.
Prof Pat Price, an oncologist from Imperial College London, described the figures as “heartbreaking” and argued there was no plan to deal with the ongoing crisis.
She said: “For cancer clinicians like myself, these record-breaking cancer waiting-time figures are heartbreaking.
“We are plummeting further into a national cancer crisis, and it feels like the Government is continuing to ignore the growing evidence.
“It beggars belief that there is no practical or effective plan to deal with this.
“Patients diagnosed with cancer are waiting longer than ever for life-saving treatment.
“The front line is at breaking point.
“Now is the time for an urgent investment boost into treatment capacity.”
According to analysis in the medical journal The Lancet Oncology, there were 9,000 extra deaths from cancer in the UK since the start of the Covid pandemic.
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Experts argue that the difficulties in accessing GP care and delays after referral meant that too many patients were facing potentially deadly delays to the start of their treatment.
According to NHS figures, patients faced delays of at least 100 days at Liverpool Women’s NHS Foundation Trust, Royal Papworth Hospital Foundation Trust in Cambridge, University Hospital Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust and North Middlesex University Hospital Trust in London.
NHS targets stipulate that 85 percent of patients given an urgent referral should start treatment within 62 days.
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