Figures Reveal Cancer Patients Are Being Failed At Almost Nine In 10 UK Health Trusts

Legal Experts Say Urgent Action Needs To be Taken To Improve Care Standards

05.10.2016

Kate Rawlings, Press Officer | 0114 274 4238

Medical negligence experts at law firm Irwin Mitchell are calling for an urgent review of care standards after Government figures revealed that cancer patients are being failed at almost nine in ten health trusts across the UK.

The figures showed that tumours are being detected too late, vital treatment is being delayed and tens of thousands of patients are dying within a year of diagnosis.

The ratings system began in July 2015 as part of a major cancer strategy designed to save an extra 30,000 lives a year by 2020.

The statistics show that for all types of treatment, 87 per cent of the 209 health boards in England provide inadequate cancer care.

They also reveal a postcode lottery, with patients in some areas 20 per cent more likely to die within a year than those elsewhere.

It is the first time that each clinical commissioning group (CCG) – the health boards responsible for running NHS care in local areas – have been assessed on four aspects of cancer care which included the percentage of patients diagnosed early, those who survived at least a year, the ones treated within two months, and their overall experience of NHS services.

After each CCG was awarded an overall grading, ranging from 'top performing' to 'greatest need for improvement', only seven, just 3 per cent came in the top bracket , while 24, or 11.5 per cent, ranked in the lowest category.

Top performers included Harrogate & Rural District, Leeds North and Solihull and bottom of the table included Doncaster, Blackpool and Haringey. 

The system was introduced by Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt last year over concerns that survival rates in England were among the lowest in Western Europe. This is partly blamed on GPs missing tumours, and delays to hospital treatment.

The postcode lottery is partly explained by variations in GP services, hospital care and patients' awareness of symptoms. But the situation has been made worse in recent months, with patients facing lengthy delays for scans and treatment because hospitals are under so much pressure.

Medical negligence expert and Partner at law firm, Irwin Mitchell, Tom Mather, said: "It is very concerning to see these Government figures which indicate that so many cancer patients are not receiving appropriate care. There is an urgent need for further review into resourcing for cancer diagnosis and treatment services, patient safety and care.

"The idea that whether you live or die might come down to where you live is deeply troubling, but from our work with cancer patients and their loved ones, we sadly see the impact of failures in diagnosis and treatment all too frequently, which is why are calling for improved and consistent care across the UK.”

Expert Opinion
It is very concerning to see these Government figures which indicate that so many cancer patients are not receiving appropriate care. There is an urgent need for further review into resourcing for cancer diagnosis and treatment services, patient safety and care.

The idea that whether you live or die might come down to where you live is deeply troubling, but from our work with cancer patients and their loved ones, we sadly see the impact of failures in diagnosis and treatment all too frequently, which is why are calling for improved and consistent care across the UK.

Tom Mather, Partner