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Almost 300,000 unable to see cancer specialist promptly from April to November

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lmost 300,000 people were unable to see a cancer specialist within two weeks of an urgent referral between April and November, according to new analysis.

The research from information in the House of Commons library found there were 290,428 breaches of a maximum two-week wait target during those seven months.

According to the analysis commissioned by the Labour Party that is the highest number of breaches in the 11 years since the two-week target was introduced.

Commenting on the figures, shadow health secretary Wes Streeting – who underwent cancer treatment last year – said cancer care “is in crisis”.

Labour MP Wes Streeting said cancer care ‘is in crisis'(Jacob King/PA) / PA Wire

“As this new analysis shows, terrifyingly large numbers of people are waiting longer than they should to receive vital cancer care and treatment, with the insecurity of not knowing.

“I know from my own treatment how important an early diagnosis is when it comes to cancer.”

A statement from the Department of Health and Social Care said the pandemic had put the NHS under pressure.

“Cancer diagnosis and treatment remains a top priority. The pandemic has put enormous pressures on the NHS, causing waiting lists to grow, but now most cancer services are back to or above pre-pandemic levels.

“Our record investment in the NHS includes an extra £2bn this year and £8bn over the next three years to cut waiting times, including through delivering an extra 9 million checks, scans and operations, making sure more patients get the treatment they need sooner.

“Last week the health and social care secretary declared a national war on cancer, with the launch of a call for evidence to inform a new 10-year plan to improve cancer care, speed up diagnosis and invest in innovative new treatments.”

The two-week maximum wait for urgent suspected cancer referrals was introduced in 2010. According to the analysis, the outcomes have been worsening since it was introduced.

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