Dozens of local NHS patients diagnosed with cancer last year waited longer than the expected two-month period before starting treatment, a new analysis of official figures reveals.
In Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals NHS Trust over the course of 2014, 179 patients waited too long for chemotherapy, radiotherapy and other forms of treatment for cancer – an increase of 39% on the previous year. Labour’s analysis of official NHS cancer care statistics shows over 20,000 patients waiting too long for treatment last year across England, of which 2830 were in the South East.
Patients have a right to receive their first treatment within 62 days of receiving an urgent GP referral for suspected cancer, according to the NHS Constitution. However, the NHS in England missed the target for all four quarters in 2014.
The figures come after separate NHS data last week revealed a record 19,000 patients waiting more than six weeks for key diagnostic tests, including seven that detect cancer. Patients must be tested promptly in order to begin treatment at the earliest opportunity. Labour’s election pledge card, unveiled at the weekend, commits the next Government to providing cancer tests and results within one week by 2020.
Last autumn, a Cancer Research UK report said the current Government’s NHS reorganisation had left services “standing still for the last two to three years” and that the changes were “hampering efforts to develop services and improve performance”. Meanwhile, NHS spending on cancer care in England fell by £790 million in the early years of this Parliament.
Peter Kyle Labour’s candidate for Hove and Portslade said:
"When it comes to cancer, time is everything. We know in some cases any delays to receiving treatment can harm people’s chances of survival. In our community 179 people did not receive the treatment they needed within 62 days last year. We all know someone who has had cancer or been affected by it.
“Labour is committed to cancer tests and results within one week to help end the scandal of people waiting too long for treatment.
"These figures show that you can't trust David Cameron with our NHS.
“The NHS as we know it can’t survive another five years of the Tories’ failing plan. Labour has a better plan, to invest an extra £2.5 billion a year in the NHS and build a Time to Care Fund to recruit 2,900 more nurses in our region.”
Andy Burnham MP, Labour’s Shadow Health Secretary, said:
"David Cameron cut the cancer budget by £800 million in real terms and, despite all the warnings, he persisted with an NHS reorganisation that disrupted cancer services. The deterioration in cancer care is a direct consequence of Government policies and the clearest proof the Tories can't be trusted with the NHS. Ministers have left families facing anxious waits for cancer tests and treatment and their complacency is dangerous.”