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NHS England cancer waiting times data from October 2020 shows:
Baroness Delyth Morgan, Chief Executive at Breast Cancer Now, said:
“The increase in referrals for people with potential symptoms of breast cancer to see a specialist is encouraging, especially at a time when we are riding the second wave of the pandemic. However, the crucial target for women to be seen within two weeks being missed yet again is cause for deep concern.
“The stark reality is that the lack of an appropriately resourced and supported diagnostic and imaging workforce, at a time when immense pressures on our health services are continuing to grow, could be resulting in more women being left to live with undetected breast cancer due to delayed diagnoses – a frightening prospect when we know that early diagnosis gives treatment the best chance of being successful.
“The unprecedented pressures put on the NHS by the first wave of the pandemic, which have already had damaging impacts on diagnosis and treatment for breast cancer patients, are now being exacerbated by the second wave and winter. Additional investment in the workforce over the next year was a welcome announcement from the Spending Review, but the need remains more urgent than ever for the Government to make the long-term investment, and take the strategic approach needed, that reflects and will address the scale of the crisis facing the cancer workforce. This is essential so that breast cancer services can safely continue and give all women the best possible chance of survival.
“It remains as important as ever during the COVID-19 pandemic that women check their breasts regularly and get any new or unusual breast changes checked out by a GP. While most breast changes won’t be cancer, on the occasions it is, early diagnosis increases the chance of successful treatment. Anyone looking for information and support can speak to our expert nurses by calling our free Helpline on 0808 800 6000.”