Government research suggests that by the end of the financial year up to 500,000 people with suspected cancer will be waiting more than 2 weeks to see an oncologist and get a diagnosis.
The NHS in England is overstretched and can no longer meet the targets set by the government for seeing a specialist for a diagnosis and starting treatment. This has resulted in a NHS backlog of 6 million people. The government is expected to publish a plan for how to tackle the backlog in the next few weeks.
This has resulted in half a million people in England with suspected cancer having to wait longer than 2 weeks to see an oncologist this year, and around 75,000 people with cancer unable to start treatment, such as surgery or chemotherapy, within the 31 or 62 days that hospitals try to guarantee.
Experts claim that significant shortages in the NHS cancer workforce are to blame. They fear that this could reduce cancer survival and cause “unimaginable distress and anxiety” for patients and their families.