England's waiting list reaches record high for cancer treatment

29
4
England's waiting list reaches record high for cancer treatment

The waiting list in England has reached a new record high, with 7.7 million people - around one-in-seven - waiting for treatment.

New figures from NHS England show a rise in the overall list, more people facing long waits of a year or more compared to the previous month.

The waiting list for treatment has been increasing for several years, averaging three million in 2014, four million in 2017 and five million in 2021 and seven million in 2022.

In February 2020, the last full month before the covid-19 pandemic was set, the waiting list was at 4.57 million.

Since then, the list has grown by just over three million to 7.68 million in July this year, the latest monthly figures released by the National Health Service.

The number rose from 7.57 million in June to the highest level since records began in August 2007.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has said 'lists will fall and people will get the care they need more quickly', adding that he wants to cut waiting lists for 2023.

At the end of July, three89,952 people in England had been waiting for more than 52 weeks to start routine hospital treatment, up from 383,083 at the end of June.

A further 7,289 individuals in England are estimated to have been waiting for more than 18 months to start routine hospital treatment at the end of July, up from 7,177 at the end of June.

As for cancer, the picture is mixed, with a rise in the number of urgent cancer referrals made by GPs to 263,696 in July, up 1% on 261,006 in June and up 10% year-on-year from 239,739 in July 2022.

The number of cancer patients who visited a specialist within two weeks of being referred by their GP fell to 77.5% in July, a drop from 80.5% in June to 77.5% in July.

The number of patients waiting for more than 62 days since a recent GP referral for cancer was down slightly, the data shows.

Some 62.6% of cancer patients who had their first treatment in July after an urgent GP referral had waited less than two months, up from 59.2% in June.

The goal is 85% and will remain one of the crucial cancer measures following the streamlining of performance standards in October.

74.1% of patients urgently referred for cancer were diagnosed or had cancer ruled out within 28 days, up from 73.5% the previous month.

The target is 75% and this will also remain one of the performance standards until October.

The King's Fund chief analyst, Siva Anandaciva, said: ''S performance statistics show there was no summer reprieve for under-pressure health services, and they come at a time when the NHS is in the spotlight for poor performance and culture.

''S 76% recovery target and well below the 95% NHS standard patients are entitled to,'' he said.

The strike, which was unprecedented, will hinder the ability of the NHS to clear this backlog.

The prime minister made tackling waiting lists one of his key priorities, but the longer industrial action rumbles on, the less likely that ambition will be met.

The real question is how the NHS got to this point and therefore how it gets out of its current cycle.

s figures show that despite ongoing pressures across the NHS, including record demand for emergency care this summer and an increase in Covid cases during July and August, NHS staff are stilldelivering for patients.

We are still massively short in hitting the Government's target, of no more than 85% of cancer patients waiting more than 62 days between urgent GP referral and their first treatment, said Professor Pat Price, of the CatchUp WithCancer campaign.

The figures revealed that nearly 40% of cancer patients are missing their life-saving cancer treatment, which is more than double the government's own goal.

The syndrome has been unacceptably long, said Dr Tim Cooksley, the president of the Society for Acute Medicine.

The NHS has faced a backlog of patients, leaving patients in pain and agony for months.