Baroness Delyth Morgan, chief executive at Breast Cancer Now, said:
“Far too many breast cancer patients waited longer than 62 days from urgent referral to start their treatment in July.* We’re deeply concerned that immense pressure on breast cancer services is leading to delays in patients being diagnosed and receiving vital test results, ultimately preventing them from starting the best treatment promptly.
“Furthermore, while it’s encouraging that over 90% of urgent referrals for suspected breast cancer met the 28 day Faster Diagnosis Standard (FDS),** it’s clear from today’s data that more needs to be done to ensure that everyone being referred, through all routes, is seen and has breast cancer confirmed or ruled out as quickly as possible.
“We must do better for breast cancer patients. The cancer workforce is the foundation of delivering the gold standard of care that patients deserve. There is no time to delay - NHS England must set out plans as to how they will invest in the cancer workforce. Only then can we guarantee people are diagnosed and start treatment as soon as possible, giving treatment the best chance of being successful.”
Notes to Editors
* The 62-day target of 85% of patients starting treatment within 62 days of urgent GP referral was missed for breast cancer (73.8%).
**The FDS target is 75%. Last month NHS England set out an expectation that over 90% of people referred with possible symptoms of breast cancer should have a diagnosis confirmed or ruled out within 28 days. For suspected breast cancer 91.4% of people were told by a specialist if they had cancer, or if cancer was definitively excluded within 28-days of an urgent GP referral.
For breast symptoms where breast cancer was not initially suspected 89.2% of people were told by a specialist if they had cancer, or if cancer was definitively excluded within 28 days of an urgent GP referral; for suspected breast cancer following a screening referral 83.4% of people were told by a specialist if they had cancer, or if cancer was definitively excluded within 28 days.