Thousands of cancer patients wait months for treatment in England

A new report reveals that over a third of cancer patients in England face life-threatening delays in treatment, as the NHS fails to meet its targets.

Doctors have warned that over a third of cancer patients in England are facing life-threatening delays, as thousands of people have to wait months to start treatment.

The latest performance data for England also showed a significant increase in people experiencing long waits in A&E, despite the overall NHS waiting list dropping slightly.

At the end of December, there were an estimated 7.6m treatments pending in England, involving 6.37 million patients, a small decrease from 7.61m treatments and 6.39 million patients at the end of November.

Doctors expressed worries that the NHS was still failing to meet cancer targets, even after someone has been diagnosed with the disease, with one crucial target not achieved for eight years.

In December, the percentage of patients waiting more than 62 days from an urgent suspected cancer referral or consultant upgrade to their first definitive treatment for cancer was 65.9%, a slight rise from 65.2% in November. The target is 85% and was last reached in December 2015.

The figures came out in the same week that King Charles started treatment for cancer shortly after being diagnosed. Buckingham Palace has not clarified whether the king is getting private healthcare or being treated on the NHS.

While he is already getting expert care, his treatment has highlighted the long waiting times in the NHS.

The data also indicated that hospitals were still under strain. The number of people waiting more than 12 hours in A&E from a decision to admit them to actually being admitted reached 54,308 in January, a sharp increase from 44,045 in December. This is the second highest number ever recorded.

The figures also showed that some NHS waits for planned treatment were worsening. In England, 13,164 people had been waiting more than 18 months to start routine hospital treatment at the end of December, up from 11,168 at the end of November.

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