Cancer treatment times on track in Northumberland

Cancer treatment times are on track in Northumberland despite the challenges posed by the coronavirus crisis, new figures reveal.

By Katie Williams,
Monday, 12th October 2020, 1:23 pm
Cancer services in Northumberland are back on track
Cancer services in Northumberland are back on track

NHS England data shows 140 patients started treatment for cancer at Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust in August – up from 139 in the same month last year and despite a drop in numbers elsewhere in the country.

The opposite was seen nationally, with 20,200 patients starting treatment in August – more than 5,500 fewer than the 25,800 recorded in August last year.

All patients at the Trust who started treatment in August did so within one month of their diagnosis – meaning it topped the NHS target of 96%.

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Nationally, 94.5% of treatment started within that timeframe, slightly down from 95.1% in July and 96.1% the previous August.

There had been signs of improvement, with the number rising in June and reaching 21,600 in July after a low of 16,700 in May.

With thousands fewer people starting treatment nationally, Macmillan Cancer Support says the continued disruption caused by Covid-19 is traumatising patients, as a second wave threatens further setbacks.

Sara Bainbridge, the charity’s head of policy said the latest national figures were “extremely worrying”.

She added: “Disruption to cancer diagnosis and treatment is having a traumatic impact on cancer patients’ lives.

“There are growing fears that rapidly rising Covid-19 rates could have an impact on the recovery of already fragile cancer services.

“Cancer must not become the ‘forgotten C’ during this pandemic. It is critical the Government urgently puts plans and resources in place to increase capacity and protect the NHS from further disruption, as we stare down the barrel of a second wave.”

An NHS spokesman said: “Cancer clinicians worked hard to ensure that, despite the disruption and acute pressures from Covid, around 85% of cancer treatments continued during the pandemic with over 246,000 people receiving treatment and more than 870,000 referred for checks since the start of March.

“Cancer and screening services are open, ready and able to receive patients so anyone who is concerned about a possible cancer symptom should contact their GP and come forward for a check.”