The number of patients facing long waits for cancer treatment has tripled over the last decade.
The amount of people receiving treatment two months from GP urgent referral to a first treatment has not met operational standards since 2015.
“If I’d had been seen straight away… I don’t think I’d have stage-four cancer now.”
Caroline Boulton, Cancer patient
The recent cancer wait time data released by the NHS shows that the health system is struggling.
Caroline Boulton, 56, has faced several delays since finding a lump in her breast in November 2021.
She waited six months after her first appointment to see an oncologist, by which point the cancer had spread to her liver.
The sports therapist has been given two to five years to live.
Ms Boulton of Stockport said: “If I’d had been seen straight away when I’d found the lump, I don’t think I’d have stage-four cancer now.
“It was probably curable. Whereas now I am fighting for my life.”
Because of NHS delays more people have stage-four cancer than they should and Ms Boulton is just one victim of the system.
CEO of Pancreatic Cancer UK, Diana Jupp said: “There is no time to wait – the government must step in and invest emergency funding for the NHS this winter. But we also desperately need to see a long-term cancer plan from Government.”
In September 2022 only 60.5 per cent of people received treatment within the 62 day time frame after urgent referral compared to 82 per cent in September 2017.
The operational standard of 85 per cent of patients being seen within this time is consistently not being met.
223,183 people have fallen outside of this standard over the past five years.
This decrease in the number of patients seen within this period causes huge concern as earlier diagnosis and faster treatment will save lives.
Dr Irfan Malik, a Nottingham-based GP, said: “We are finding that the hospital waiting times for treatment are ever increasing.
“It is very sad that patients suffering with cancer also have to wait longer.
“I am afraid our NHS is under extreme pressure, with huge backlogs, the situation is likely to worsen over the winter months. I hope that our Government will be able to implement effective policies that will help patients.”
Only 61.1 per cent of people were seen within 62 days from urgent referral at Nottingham University hospitals in September 2022.
This figure has dropped significantly from 83.9 per cent five years ago in September 2017.