Cancer waiting times in England were the worst on record last year, according to BBC News analysis. This follows a trend in worsening wait times every year since 2010. Macmillan Cancer Support chief executive, Gemma Peters, has called the statistics ‘a new low and highlights the desperate situation for people living with cancer.’
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The statistics revealed 64.1% of patients started treatment within 62 days from cancer being suspected. This means that almost 100,000 waited longer than they should have for urgent care. However an NHS England spokesman noted that more people are being treated for cancer. Last year, 72% of patients were diagnosed within 28 days of urgent referral, an improvement on previous years. The spokesperson said, "Amid record pressures and the impact of a year of industrial action, NHS staff continue to work hard to prioritise the longest waiters and most urgent cases," he added.
The figures follow a study from Cancer Research that revealed progress in cancer survival rates has slowed. The Cancer in the UK: Overview 2024 study revealed that survival increased three to five times faster between 1970 and 2000 compared to the improvement since 2010. Chief executive Cancer Research, Michelle Mitchell said, ‘It’s worrying that the rate of improvement has slowed in recent years though, and cancer patients today face anxious and historically long waits for tests and treatments.
Cancer Research said that progression in cancer survival rates can be attributed to developments in research over the last 50 years. However, they estimate that due to the UK’s heavy reliance on charities for research funding, a £1bn research funding gap could open over the next decade. Ms Mitchel has called for strong political leadership to change slow progress. ‘Almost one in two people across the UK will get cancer in their lifetime. The number of new cases each year is growing. Beating cancer requires real political leadership and must be a priority for all political parties ahead of a General Election.’