Of the emerging statistics about increasing NHS waiting times, one that particularly troubles me is for investigations for bowel and colon cancer. In a year there has been an 8 fold increase in the number of patients waiting more than 6 weeks for a colonoscopy.
Bowel cancer is a relatively common form of cancer and needs to be caught early. Although the odd week of delay will not make any difference to the outcome it is often a week of unnecessary anxiety for patients and their families.
However delays of months may mean the difference between life and death.
Cancer diagnosis is often later in the UK than in other European countries – we already have a problem with delay – and increasing delays in carrying out investigations will be making an existing problem worse.
Acting for people whose diagnosis has been negligently delayed – or in many cases their surviving relatives – I am only too aware of the real human cost behind the statistics.
The government has promised to keep waiting times down and keeping the promise is a priority.
Paul Sankey is a Solicitor specialising in Clinical Negligence.
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