Is cancer care in England still failing to improve?
As long ago as 2018 I wrote an article about the reports of failures to diagnose cancer in its’ early stages causing potentially unnecessary deaths.
It had been reported at that time that England has failed to close the gap on the best-performing nations in relation to survival rates.
The Health Foundation undertook a review of the government's record between 1995 and 2015 and concluded that despite four strategies setting ambitious goals, the NHS was still lagging behind the best.
It said if services were improved, 10,000 lives could be saved each year.
Has anything changed in two years?
Prof Sir Mike Richards, a former government cancer Tsar who led the original review, warned patients were still finding it too difficult to get access to the tests and scans. The statistics show that this is an ongoing problem which has been hugely worsened by the COVID 19 pandemic which has lead to longer waiting times and cancelled appointments.
The analogy used by Prof Richards was that the number of missed opportunities to save lives was the equivalent of a "jumbo jet of people falling from the sky every two weeks".
As a result of initiatives for cancer care pathways, there was a rise in referrals but this meant that the system was finding it hard to cope leading to long waiting times and the NHS struggling to meet its targets. Again, statistics show that this has been worsened by the pandemic with a combination of the strain on our National Health Service and patients frightened to go to their GP surgery or to a Hospital for treatment because of the COVID risks.
It cannot be right that this continues to be such an issue and that the UK is falling behind in terms of diagnosis and survival rates.
Melanie Lidstone-Land and the Clinical Negligence team at Swain & Co regularly act for people who have received a late diagnosis of Cancer or other life limiting illness as a result of failures to refer, diagnose or treat in a reasonable time. They also act for the families of those patients who have died as a result of such failings.
“A diagnosis of Cancer strikes fear in the heart of patients and their families. Part of the reason for that is they do not trust the NHS to provide the diagnostic tests within a reasonable time frame which would mean their survival is optimised. I see too often that the cancer is diagnosed at an advanced stage or too late for survival and it is heart breaking. It is unnecessary in so many cases and it is vitally important, when that happens, that patients and their families are able to access legal advice and assistance. “
If you think that you, a family member, loved one or friend could benefit from a no obligation discussion with one of our Clinical Negligence experts then call today.