'Record numbers of suspected cancer patients are facing delays before starting their treatment amid growing pressure on increasingly overstretched NHS services for the disease.
In the 12 months to June, 130,553 people in England had to wait more than two weeks for their first appointment with a cancer specialist after being urgently referred by a GP.
That was a big increase on the 104,930 who had to wait longer than 14 days in the same period in 2016-17. In June this year alone, 16,235 people did not meet their specialist for the first time within the 14 days guaranteed by the NHS constitution.
Just 91.1% of all the 182,348 people referred were seen within two weeks in June, a breach of the duty on the NHS to ensure that 93% do so. Almost two-thirds of hospitals proved unable to provide first appointments within 14 days, while a third missed it by at least 10 percentage points or more.
Hospitals also missed several other cancer treatment waiting time targets, in some cases by the widest margin yet seen, the latest NHS-wide performance figures published by NHS England show. Macmillan Cancer Support warned that the service’s performance on how long people wait for cancer care is “slipping”.'
Read more: Thousands of cancer patients face NHS treatment delays
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