Responding to the latest NHSE Cancer Waiting Times Data, Melanie Sturtevant, Associate Director for Policy, Evidence and Influencing at Breast Cancer Now, said:
“The latest data confirms our fears that we’re simply not moving fast enough for breast cancer patients – a cause for deep concern as the sooner breast cancer is diagnosed, the better the chance of treatment being successful and potentially lifesaving.
“There was a substantial increase in urgent GP referrals last November - the highest numbers seen since March 2022 – and despite our incredible NHS staff continuing to work tirelessly to provide the best standard of care for patients, the percentage of people being seen within two weeks, and starting breast cancer treatment within 62 days of an urgent referral is stagnating.
"It’s hugely worrying that cancer waiting times that are well below target – and would have sparked alarm pre-COVID – have become the new normal.
“The Government’s new Faster Diagnosis Standard (FDS) – that 75% of people should have cancer confirmed or ruled out within 28 days – continues to be comfortably met for breast cancer. But around 95% of referrals do not result in a breast cancer diagnosis, meaning this target can be met without confirming a single breast cancer case within 28 days. This removes any incentive to improve waiting times and denies women the gold standard of care they deserve.
“We need urgent action to do better, faster for breast cancer patients.
"The Government must acknowledge that the breast cancer workforce is understaffed and overstretched and address this perilous situation through a fully-funded long-term workforce plan. Ambitions must be raised: Breast Cancer Now, alongside a cross party group of MPs, is calling for the Faster Diagnosis Standard to be raised to 95%, before the two-week wait is removed from the legislation.”