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May 30, 2022

Experts Warn That NHS Cancer Backlog Could Take up to Five Years to Clear

Cancer treatment in England has not been progressive in recent months and if nothing is done by the NHS to improve the current situation, it may find it very difficult to clear the huge backlogs. This is according to an analysis by charity Macmillan Cancer Support.

The charity analysed new figures which show that as at February 2022, 32,000 less persons had begun treatment. With the current trend, the charity warns that it will take the NHS until September 2027 to clear the growing backlog.

This figure is four years longer than previous estimates, which were based on assumptions the NHS would be able to treat 10 per cent more patients than it did prior to the pandemic. However, Macmillan’s latest analysis shows the target is not being met.

Analyzing the data, it has been revealed that the number of people being treated after a diagnosis has “stalled” since May 2021. This means that people who show signs of cancer will most likely be diagnosed at a later stage which has severe implications on their chances of survival.

This is coming after a research from Cancer Research UK showed more than 68,000 people each month were waiting more than 28 days for a cancer diagnosis.

Just last month, the Commons Health Committee warned it had found very little evidence of “serious effort” on the part of the government to address the issue of workforce to take care of the demand for cancer services.

Liane, 37 has been affected by these long delays and has only six months to live. The mother of three said; “I wasn’t considered a likely candidate for cancer at 36 and walked out of my GP surgery more than once being told I had haemorrhoids. I didn’t push for more investigations. If I’d been given a blood test, I might have got into the system sooner."

“What I’ve been through can’t happen to anyone else. Catching cancer early is so important. I would implore anybody experiencing signs and symptoms to be persistent and really push for answers if they’re experiencing any cancer symptoms.”

Chief executive for Macmillan Cancer Support said: “It is deeply troubling to see thousands of people still facing unacceptably long waits for a cancer diagnosis and treatment. We are hearing every day from people who are experiencing huge amounts of anxiety and distress that any delays could impact their health and chances of recovery.”

“Everyone deserves high quality care that addresses all of their needs. But right now, the NHS does not have enough cancer professionals to provide this support and people living with cancer are facing detrimental effects to their physical health and overall wellbeing as a result."

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: “We are improving outcomes for cancer patients across England and our new 10-Year Cancer Plan will set out how we will lead Europe in cancer care."

“Our plan to tackle the Covid backlog and reduce cancer waiting times includes rolling out up to 160 community diagnostic centres across the country – with 88 already open and over 800,000 additional scans delivered – and our record investment in the NHS will help deliver an extra nine million checks, scans and operations by 2025.”

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