Health systems across all four nations of the UK have been missing targets for cancer treatment since before the Covid pandemic.

The latest NHS data, from March, showed the proportion of patients in England waiting less than 62 days to receive their first cancer treatment was 69% against a target of 85%.

New analysis from Cancer Research UK has found that 382,000 cancer patients had not been treated within the prescribed time in England since December 2015, when the target was last met.

The charity is calling for the next government to draw up a long-term cancer strategy for England, with a plan to address shortages in the cancer workforce and increase capacity in the system.

“All political parties should commit to a long-term, fully-funded strategy to back cancer research across the UK, and improve and reform cancer services in England,” said the chief executive of Cancer Research UK, Michelle Mitchell.

“Without this, cancer patients will not receive the level of care that they deserve.”

NHS England says the number of patients waiting longer than 62 days for treatment is now the lowest it has been since April 2020, and it has been meeting another target, for diagnosing cancer or ruling it out within 28 days.


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