More than half of NHS trusts in England are failing to meet their target for urgent admissions of patients with suspected cancer, new figures show.

The analysis shows the number of hospitals that failed to achieve national The cancer target is the highest it has been in three years.

In England, the maximum waiting time for a hospital appointment for suspected cancer is two weeks from the day the hospital receives a referral letter from a general practitioner.

According to NHS England, around 93% of patients should be seen within this timeframe.

However, the latest analysis, using a date range between August 2019 and August 2022, shows that around seven in 10 NHS trusts routinely miss the target.


The moving 12-month average number of trusts missing the target currently stands at 84 out of 117, the highest number over the period.

That’s nearly three-quarters, 72%, of the 117 trusts, including three that never hit the target within three years.

These are University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust, Newcastle upon Tyne Hospital NHS Foundation Trust and North Middlesex University Hospital NHS Trust. All have been contacted for comment.

Trusts that have missed the target for more than two years include West Suffolk, which last met it in December 2019, and Leeds Teaching Hospitals, which last met the standard in March 2020.

Princess Alexandra Hospital in Essex, Worcestershire A&E Hospital and Oxford University Hospital all fell short of the target as of May 2020.

Hospitals in the North West of England, Norfolk and Norwich University Hospitals, United Lincolnshire and Country Durham and Darlington Hospitals reached the target in just one month out of 37.

Nasser Turabi, director of evidence and implementation at Cancer Research UK, told PA: “Any cancer waiting time target not being met is unacceptable.

“But this goal should be a minimum standard. The fact that it is not being implemented now only shows how stressed ours is health service became.

“We expect the number of people seeing a GP with suspected cancer to fluctuate throughout the year, but the NHS needs to be equipped for this.

“That’s why we need the government to publish the 10-year cancer plan they’ve committed to, with full cost estimates and a comprehensive cancer workforce investment plan.

“It’s also important to remember that it’s better to be on a waiting list than to be at home with symptoms.

“Listen to your body – if you feel something isn’t right, see your GP and insist on making an appointment. Your doctor wants to hear from you.”

An NHS spokesman said: “To fully recover from the pandemic, GPs are now referring 20% ​​more patients every day than before the pandemic, which is good news as it will mean more people are being tested and diagnosed sooner.

“The NHS is investing billions in expanding diagnostic treatment to meet this extra demand and has written to trusts with the biggest backlogs to urgently develop plans to reduce cancer waits – helping them restructure their care to keep up with increased demand. »