Nearly 17,000 patients left waiting longer than the recommended wait time for cancer tests after being referred by their GP

  • NHS say no one should wait longer than six weeks for diagnostic test
  • But latest figures show in April 17,000 patients waited longer than
  • Highest for six years, suggesting attempts to tackle problem has stalled

By Daniel Martin


Thousands of NHS patients are being forced to wait weeks for vital cancer tests – potentially putting their lives at risk.

The NHS recommends that no one should wait longer than six weeks after being referred by their GP for a diagnostic test.

But the latest official figures show that in April, almost 17,000 patients waited longer than the limit – more than double the total in the same month last year and almost five times the figure at the time of the last election in 2010.

The number is also the highest for six years, suggesting that progress made in recent years to tackle the problem has stalled.

17,000 patients waited over six weeks after their referral from a GP for a  diagnostic test (library image)

17,000 patients waited over six weeks after their referral from a GP for a diagnostic test (library image)

It comes just two weeks after official figures revealed that the target of 85 per cent of cancer patients starting treatment within two months of a GP referral has not been met for the first time since 2009.

The latest total of 16,981 patients includes 3,427 waiting more than six weeks for endoscopy tests that detect bowel and stomach cancers – up from 2,037 last April, and 976 in 2010.

There were 6,117 patients waiting for ultrasound tests, up from 1,326 last year, and 291 at the election.

Some 2,439 waited too long for MRI scans, compared with 374 at the election, and 859 were kept waiting for CT scans, compared with 215 in 2010.

 

Charities blamed short staffing and a lack of MRI and CT machines for the problems. Sara Osborne, of Cancer Research UK, said: ‘These latest figures are extremely worrying and urgent action must be taken to make sure patients don’t have to wait too long to get their cancer diagnosed.

‘The six-week waiting time target is in place as we know a quick diagnosis of cancer and access to treatment is vital to improving survival from the disease.

'Patients need assurance that suspected cancer is taken seriously and prioritised by the NHS.’

Ciaran Devane, of Macmillan Cancer Support, said: ‘Only two weeks ago we heard that more people are waiting longer to start treatment and now more people are waiting longer just to get diagnosed.

Charities blamed short staffing and a lack of MRI (pictured) and CT machines for the long waiting times. Some 2,439 waited too long for MRI scans last year

Charities blamed short staffing and a lack of MRI (pictured) and CT machines for the long waiting times. Some 2,439 waited too long for MRI scans last year

'Once again we see that cancer care in this country isn’t fixed. The NHS is under strain and cancer risks being overlooked and not given the focus it needs.’

Last night the Department of Health announced that an extra £250million was being given to hospitals and GP-led organisations to keep waiting times down.

It follows figures showing that an extra 250,000 patients are waiting for planned surgery or treatment compared to this time last year.

The department said the increase was partly due to the ageing population, which means more patients are being referred by GPs.

 

The comments below have been moderated in advance.

All while those who want a boob job get it right away, and foreign health visitors clogging up our hospitals, it will only end when Britain finally stops all foreigners from getting free NHS help..!!!

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17000 patients have been referred by GPs to specialist, how come GREEDY LAZY GPs are referring their patients? Do they not get INCENTIVE for NOT sending their patients to hospital? Come on Daily mail, put something better ....

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So this is NOT GPs fault this time, ho ho ha ha, come on DM put something spicy on greedy lazy GP, how come they have referred so many patients to the detriment of their pocket

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This is appalling. However it is the same as the passport fiasco, there's just too many people living in the UK and not enough resources. We continually close hospitals and A&E; departments. We urgently need to build more hospitals and clinics and doctors surgeries to cope with the influx of immigrants.

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This is serious, the N.H.S. is under too much pressure from treating all and sundry who have never paid into the system. Whatever happened to David Cameron's promise to cut waiting time in the N.H.S?

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I was told I would be given an appointment with in two weeks as is the NICE guidline when I had a Womb cancer scare, I did indeed get a given that appointment but the day before I was due to go I received a letter cancelling it and given another date a month away, I could not stand the anquish of waiting any longer and booked a private Ultrasound at the cost of £180, I had to travel to Southampton from Bristol, as it was the only place with a next day appointment. I was one of the lucky ones and given the all clear.. A quick appointment is vital to save lives, if I had had Cancer it would have been a six week wait for my scan I had had to wait two weeks for the inital appointment to see my doctor as well, that could have been a death sentance instead of a lifeline.

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Its the same Tory policy that Thatcher and Major had. That of making the NHS appear so inefficient, by starving it of funds, that people would move to private health care as a result. In the early 1990s, some of the press, not the DM of course, were full of stories of patients waiting hours, if not days in hospital corridors. It took years of investment by the Labour government to get the NHS back on track after 18 years of Tory deliberate neglect. The Conservatives have despised the NHS since its inception when they voted against its formation and now they are on track to bring about the end of the NHS. £16.6bn of NHS services are already up for sale to the private health care industry.

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Try getting eye clinic appointments. You are likely to go blind waiting.

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No, Government set the targets - so why are they so quiet when financial cuts by them prevent achievement? And why do they hand out 'honours' to those keeping quiet!

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People are haVING LOST fILES CANCELLED CANCER TREATMENT 5 TIMES THEN WE ARE SUPPOSE TO WELCOME MORE BRITISH CITIZENS INTO OUR PROLONGED MISERY I THINK THEY CALL THIS NEGLECT OF DUTY BY THIS GOVERNMENT BUT COME THE ELECTION DON'T GET MAD GET EVEN THATS WHAT YOU CALL BRITISH JUSTICE.

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