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NHS cancer referral times in Hull not being met: Are patients being failed?

Figures from Hull University Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, published in November 2023, confirmed that the Trust was unable to meet the national 31-day target from cancer diagnosis to starting treatment.

They indicate that 28.5% of patients did not start treatment within 31 days of diagnosis, the second highest number in England. 

Patients waiting more than two weeks for cancer specialist

The Department of Health NHS Cancer Plan introduced a two-week wait referral for cancer in 2000. However, in late 2022 a study revealed that around 175 people a month in Hull were having to wait more than two weeks to see a cancer specialist following a GP referral. 

The NHS has a current aim of 93% of patients being seen within the two-week referral, but the study revealed only 91.47% of patients were seen within that timeframe.

Data from Hull University Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust confirms there have been ongoing delays in cancer diagnosis and treatment for a significant length of time. Hull University Teaching Hospitals cancer services provide treatment to a wide geographical area across Hull, East Yorkshire and North Lincolnshire, and these delays are having a significant impact on the care provided to many patients in the area.

Coastal towns found to have lower standard of healthcare

There's also data that concludes English coastal towns have a lower standard of healthcare, in particular cancer care, compared to the national average due to a shortage of services and staff.  Hull and East Yorkshire includes a number of rural coastal towns with a history of significant industry. It's therefore paramount that cancer services in the area see improvement in the speed of diagnosis and treatment to improve patient outcomes. 

A cancer referral is daunting for patients and their families, often causing significant worry before a diagnosis is confirmed and then waiting for treatment to start.  

The failure to meet the two-week target, and thereafter the failure to commence treatment promptly, is a failure in patient care and safety. 


As a medical negligence lawyer, I've supported a number of clients and their families who have sadly suffered an avoidable delay in the diagnosis and treatment of cancer as a result of failings in patient care. Early diagnosis and treatment is key to beating cancer and crucial to saving lives.

Find out more about Irwin Mitchell’s expertise in supporting those affected by cancer at our dedicated cancer claims section.