Melanie Sturtevant, Associate Director for Policy, Evidence and Influencing at Breast Cancer Now, has commented on the latest NHS England Cancer Wait Times data.
Responding, Melanie Sturtevant, Associate Director for Policy, Evidence and Influencing at Breast Cancer Now, said:
“This morning’s quarterly data [July to Sept 2022] confirms our fears that we’re not moving fast enough for breast cancer patients.
"We know that the sooner breast cancer is diagnosed, the better the chance of treatment being successful and potentially life-saving.
"While we welcome the slight improvements in the percentage of people being seen within two weeks of an urgent GP referral, and starting treatment within 62 days of that referral, we are still worryingly below target.
“NHS staff do an incredible job and work tirelessly to provide the best standard of care for patients, but more people are waiting far too long to be seen and start treatment.
"Despite this, 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.
"As around 95% of referrals do not result in a breast cancer diagnosis, not one breast cancer case needs to be confirmed within 28 days for the FDS target to be met.
"The 75% FDS target denies women the gold standard of care they deserve, and lacks any incentive to improve breast cancer waiting times.
"This must change so we can do better, faster, for breast cancer patients.
"For this to happen, the government must acknowledge the severity of the situation and urgently address the fact that the breast cancer workforce is understaffed and overstretched, by publishing a fully-funded long-term workforce plan.
"Ambitions must be raised, which is why 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 legislation.”