The Government has pledged to introduce targets to ensure cancer patients are given their results within four weeks.
The new targets aim to guarantee patients with either an ‘all-clear’ or a definitive diagnosis within just 28 days of them being referred by their GPs.
The target for 95% of people to be given their cancer results within the new time frame is one of the main recommendations of a joint NHS England and Cancer Research UK task force which examined ways in which the NHS could speed up cancer diagnosis.
Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has announced the Government will invest an additional £300m every year by 2020 to meet the new target which will first be trialled in five hospitals before a nationwide rollout.
The additional money, part of the £8bn funding package announced for the NHS earlier this year, will be used to train hundreds more staff in performing endoscopies. The Department for Health say this will mean more than half a million more endoscopy tests will be carried out by 2020.
Survival rates for cancer are still lower in the UK than in many other European countries and it is very much hoped that these new measures will help to narrow the gap.
The new target will certainly help spare thousands of people the unnecessary anxiety of having to wait unacceptably long periods of time to get their results and give earlier peace of mind to those who are cancer-free. It will also crucially, help patients with a positive diagnosis to begin their treatment sooner. This will help save an estimated 11,000 lives a year.
Our medical negligence solicitors have a wealth of experience acting for people who have been harmed by delayed cancer diagnosis or negligent medical treatment due to errors made interpreting scans or failing to recognise cancer symptoms.
At present, although patients should be able to see a specialist within two weeks of a GP referral, they then often face what can obviously be an agonisingly long wait to discover their test results. This unfortunately means that in far too many cases, they do not begin their treatment within the recommended 62 days. This is not good enough.
NHS services for diagnosing cancer are under enormous pressure and it is essential that more cancer consultants, specialist nurses and staff trained in endoscopies and diagnostic tests are recruited.
Paul Sankey is a Senior Clinical & Medical Negligence Solicitor leading the Slater and Gordon Lawyers Clinical Negligence team in London.
Slater and Gordon Lawyers help people who have suffered from delayed or wrong diagnosis of cancer due to Medical Negligence.
For a free consultation call the Medical Negligence Solicitors at Slater and Gordon Lawyers on freephone 0800 916 9049 or contact us online and we will call you.