Falling Standard in Cancer Services

19th Mar 2015

More than one in three people in the UK will develop cancer in their lifetime, with the number of people being diagnosed growing at a rate of 2% a year. Yet, in the past two years both the Department of Health and NHS England have been affected by falling standards in their management of cancer services.

The NHS set itself a key target for cancer patients, providing that at least 85% should start treatment within 62 days of being referred by a GP. This target is vitally important as it is accepted that early diagnosis and treatment are crucial for improving the odds of recovering from cancer. Alarmingly, the NHS missed this target for the whole of 2014, with just 83% of patients treated on time. For some cancers, the rate was as low as 73%.

Furthermore, the rate at which cancer services are improving has fallen, despite the fact that the Department of Health spent more than £6.7 billion annually on these services. This has been caused in part by the increase in the number of people suffering from cancer. However, the Committee of Public Accounts has reported that a lack in effective leadership and a misuse of available data has let to previous improvements in cancer services stalling.

In addition to this, there remain worrying inequalities and variations in the quality of cancer treatment available, both nationally and by demographic. The Committee report found an unacceptable and unexplained variation in the performance of cancer services across the country, eg a marked difference in waiting times and performance standards. Also, survival rates and access to treatment are unjustifiably poor for older people, considering that three in five cancers are diagnosed in people aged over 65.

Delayed/missed diagnosis of cancer can result in devastating outcomes. Please call our expert Medical Negligence Solicitors for a free consultation on 0161 928 3848.

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