NHS misses cancer target

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The NHS has missed one of the targets for waiting times for patients receiving treatment for cancer following their GP's referral, official statistics have shown.

Between October and December 2014, 84% of patients were treated for their cancer within 62 days of their GP's referral. This is a fall of 2% compared to the previous quarter and the target is 85% of patients.

Some cancers were reaching this target with 97% of breast cancer patients having their first treatment within 62 days.

Meanwhile patients with lung cancer within that time in 76% of cases.

For referrals from an NHS cancer screening service, 90% of patients should begin treatment within 62 days.

The figures revealed the NHS was exceeding that target, with 94% beginning treatment.

Meanwhile 90% of patients who were upgraded in priority by a consultant received treatment within 62 days, down 2% on the previous quarter.

Upgrades by consultants do not yet have a set target agreed.

Dr Fran Woodard, director of policy and research at Macmillan Cancer Support, said: "It is deeply concerning that the cancer waiting time targets, which outline the time it should take for people with cancer to begin treatment following an urgent GP referral, have been breached once again in England.

"This marks a year of this target being consistently missed, a year in which we've barely seen any improvements to waiting times being made. This shows a fundamental failure within the NHS.

"Latest figures show that 68 trusts in England have failed to meet the target leaving more than 5,000 people waiting more than 62 days to start urgent treatment - this is simply deplorable."

She added: "The government has been very clear about its ambition to improve cancer survival rates across the country but it is no longer enough to just pay lip service to the issue.

"Ahead of the upcoming general election we need to see a firm commitment by all political parties in their manifestos to tackle poor cancer survival rates and outcomes as a matter of urgency."

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