New NHS figures show large variations in patient cancer services

16 January 2015

New NHS figures show large variations in patient cancer services

New NHS figures show large variations in patient cancer services

The National Audit Office (NAO) has revealed analysis which suggests some significant variations in cancer treatment need to be improved in order to save more lives. The new NHS figures success earlier diagnosis and better access to treatment can stem current mortality rates so as to avoid more cases of misdiagnosis and delay of cancers.

The report conducted by the NAO found that the NHS is improving but there are still major differences in outcomes for cancer patients when it comes to age and socio-economic background, with the least deprived reflecting the higher end of the 20,000 cancer deaths studied.

Age was found to be another factor as well  with a finding that patients aged 55-64 were found to be 20% more likely to survive for at least one year after diagnosis than those aged 75-99. Importantly the NAO suggested that this figure was NOT simply because of frailty coming with old age.

One in five cancer patients being diagnosed only through emergency routes

The study further showed that the number of NHS Trusts and Foundation Trusts breaching the 62-day cancer referral standard set by the UK Government had doubled in one year. 85% of patients should be treated within 62 days of being referred by their GP, according to targets for England as set by the government. If cancer symptoms are not dealt with promptly there is a danger that it can be exacerbated leading to further complications, treatment and even surgery.

The report also showed that one in five cases of cancer were only eventually diagnosed through emergency routes between July and December 2012. This variation can often lead to significant further treatment for a patient when in fact the cancer should have been picked up far earlier.

Sarah Woolnough, Cancer Research UK’s executive director of policy, said: “Cancer survival is improving, but this report provides further evidence that services are not meeting the needs of all patients, and Cancer Research UK is projecting an increase of a third in the number of cases over the next 15 years.

“It’s vital that we set fresh ambitions for the future of these services if we are to improve the outlook for the thousands of patients diagnosed with cancer every week.” 

 “We must do better for patients, especially to tackle the significant variation in patients getting the cancer services they need. Too many patients are still diagnosed through emergency routes and older cancer patients are much less likely to have surgery than younger people,” Woolnough said.

“Improving early diagnosis and access to the best treatments has to be a priority,” she added.

Patient Care Options

Have you or a loved one wanted to raise a complaint with the NHS  regarding medical mistreatment relating to cancer diagnosis and delay that has been experienced at a NHS hospital or even at a private hospital? Our specialist teams can provide FREE advice about what your options are, whether you want to make a medical negligence claim or medical mistreatment complaint or simply to better understand what your patient rights. You can contact us here today for  a no-obligation and completely free conversation to discuss what happened to you.