The latest quarterly statistics on waiting times for suspected and diagnosed cancer patients accessing NHS services were released today, Wednesday 19 November, by NHS England.
The stats show that even though the target for the two-week wait for suspected breast cancer has been met, more people than ever with suspected breast cancer symptoms are having to wait longer than two weeks to be seen by a specialist.
Mia Rosenblatt, Head of Policy and Campaigns at Breast Cancer Campaign, said:
“Following the release of cancer waiting times statistics today, we are relieved to see that for breast cancer the ‘two-week wait’ target - that people should be seen by a specialist within two weeks after being referred with suspected breast cancer symptoms - has been met, after having been missed for the first time the previous quarter. However, the percentage of people seen within this ‘two-week wait’ target is still amongst the lowest it has ever been.
“Since these statistics were first published in 2009, compliance with the target was consistent and performance was frequently well above the actual target level. Although we recognise that there are an increasing number of people being referred with suspected breast cancer, requiring further resource, the downward trend we have seen recently is a cause for concern.
“The value of the ‘two week wait’ for breast cancer has been long established. It is vital that women are seen by a specialist as soon as possible, both to minimise the distress caused by the uncertainty of not knowing and so that treatment can begin as soon as possible if they are diagnosed with cancer, giving women the best chances of survival. We call on the Department of Health and NHS England to take action to ensure compliance with the targets continues.”