Some NHS trusts have only able to treat 62% of cancer patients within the last 18 months, with thousands of people now affected by the strain on the NHS through the Covid-19 pandemic. Concern has already been expressed by charities that the pandemic will have increased cancer death rates.
One of the greatest causes for concern is the estimated 36,000 people who did not come forward for cancer diagnosis last year, along with the worry that a lack of face to face appointments since last March will have meant a lower standard of care.
Dame Cally Palmer, national cancer director for NHS England, has said that people hesitated to come forward during the pandemic, especially those with lung cancer, because of the cross-over of symptoms with Covid-19. But she said that since March 2021, referrals and treatments had risen.
This still leaves a backlog of around 16,000 people waiting more than 62 days for a diagnosis – of these people about 12% will have cancer.
The NHS is investing £20m to speed up early diagnosis for various cancers, including skin and prostate cancer, because early diagnosis means cancer is easier to treat.
Ally Taft, partner at Medical Accident Group, said “The pressure on the NHS has been incredible and the knock-on effect on the treatment of cancer is deeply concerning. Patients are not getting the help that they need and deserve; the investment in early diagnosis is welcome but there is still some way to go before patients get the diagnosis and treatment they need.”
If your cancer treatment has been delayed, we can help you to take action which will support your future.