The NHS has specified timeframes in which patients should see a cancer specialist and commence treatment. Unfortunately, in some cases, these timescales are not being met.
Patients with suspected cancer should be seen by a specialist within 14 days of GP referral. In cases where cancer has been diagnosed, all patients should start treatment within 31 days of a treatment plan being agreed.
However, with the current challenges and pressures faced by the NHS, record numbers of patients are not being seen within these timescales. It has been reported that over 18,000 patients a month in England with suspected cancer are now waiting too long to see a specialist or commence treatment.
Whilst our NHS staff work tirelessly, financial cuts and staff shortages has resulted in increasing wait times and performance against targets are at an all time low.
Lauren McLeod, Clinical Negligence solicitor commented:
“We are seeing a number of cases involving delays in diagnosis, referral for investigations and treatment. In some instances, we have seen investigations take place but results have gone unreported due to administrative backlogs and staff shortages. This has resulted in the delay of critical treatment.
For some people, sadly, such delays can have a significant and life changing impact upon their prognosis and available treatment options.
Whilst a delay does not always have a physical impact, it can often have a psychological affect. Patients are left waiting, uncertain as to what impact the delays may be having. This often causes unnecessary anxiety and distress in what is already a very difficult time”.
Given the importance of early diagnosis and treatment, both from a physical and psychological perspective, it is clear that measures need to be taken to ensure that our NHS meets their target timeframes.