“The NHS Taskforce overseeing the restarting of cancer services have been focusing on those who have been waiting for cancer services for more than three months which is the right thing to do. The 6,400 people waiting for over three months for cancer services is an improvement from previous months, but the overall backlog is increasing.
“We do not have enough information to know just how much harm this is doing to patient outcomes yet, but thousands more people can die from cancer as a result. The backlog must be tackled proactively in all areas, not just those who have been waiting for more than three months, otherwise it will continue to grow and patient outcomes will deteriorate. We can act now by ensuring hospitals are ramping up diagnosis and screening and utilising the substantial capacity of the independent sector, which is an opportunity that has not been maximised.”
Mike Moran, CEO of Rutherford Health, said: “We simply cannot afford for the cancer backlog to increase in any shape or form, otherwise we will face the certainty of terrible patient outcomes in the future. Without aggressive action the backlog can continue to grow. We have played our part in trying to address this crisis, our centres remained open throughout the pandemic and our services were offered to NHS Trusts who needed them. We are open to ramping this up further to ensure that the backlog is brought under control as we head into winter. This is the best course of action, any reduction in cancer services due to predicted winter pressures would simply be unthinkable.”