Health Charities Urge Diagnosis Delay Action

Health Charities Are Calling For Waiting Times For Diagnostic Services To Be Reduced


A number of leading health charities are calling for action to reduce the number of delays seen for people seeking diagnostic treatment.

According to the BBC, nearly 17,000 people had to wait for more than six weeks for scans and investigations in April this year, with many left in the dark about whether they had cancer or other serious diseases.

The NHS constitution dictates that no patient should have to wait more than six weeks for a test, but despite the large number of breaches to this, executives believe the vast majority of people are seeing waiting times improve.

Many commentators have noted the NHS has been put under more pressure in recent years due to rising demand and falling budgets, but in the last 12 months the number of people missing the six week deadline has risen to more than two per cent.

Andy Burnham, Labour's shadow health secretary, said: "Every day, yet more evidence emerges showing an NHS heading seriously downhill. Patients are waiting longer for crucial tests - causing stress and real anguish for worried families."

This concern was shared by Ciaran Devane, chief executive of Macmillan Cancer Support, who said: "It is extremely worrying that the proportion of people who face delays in receiving vital tests which can diagnose cancer has doubled since this time last year."

Executives at NHS England defended their record, noting that there were more than 50,000 additional tests carried out in April 2014 compared to the same month in 2013 and that the system is working well.

The UK currently lags behind many areas in Europe on cancer survival rates and some charities claim this is due to poor screening methods available in the country.

While the NHS has advanced equipment at its disposal, campaigners say GPs are warned not to refer patients for treatment unless absolutely necessary due to a long waiting list.

Expert Opinion
A key part of providing quality and safe care to patients is ensuring that they can get the right treatment at the right time. Sadly, this research shows that there are still instances when people are not being seen within the recommended timeframe.

"It is vital that the NHS works to tackle these delays, as we have seen cases in the past when people have suffered serious injury as a result of such problems. Time is often of the essence when it comes to patient care, so everything possible must be done to ensure standards are always met."
Mandy Luckman, Partner