Three quarters of NHS services are FAILING to treat cancer patients quickly enough

Three quarters of NHS services are FAILING to treat cancer patients quickly enough as only 37 meet Government targets (so is your local hospital keeping up?)

  • NHS hospitals are supposed to treat 85 per cent of cancer patients in 62 days
  • But last year 94 out of 131 hospital trusts failed to meet that target 
  • That number is 2.6 times higher than it was five years ago, figures revealed
  • At the worst performing trust almost four in 10 waited longer than two months 
  • Have you or someone you know waited more than two months to start cancer treatment? Email

Almost three quarters of NHS hospitals take more than two months to start patients’ cancer treatment, figures have revealed.

Hospital trusts in England are supposed to begin treatment within 62 days of a GP’s referral in 85 per cent of cases.

But last year only 37 out of 131 managed to hit that target, with 94 keeping seriously ill patients waiting longer.

In the worst performing health systems almost 40 per cent of people had to wait longer than they should have done, while the figure was less than five per cent in the best performing.

Experts warned the longer people are made to wait before starting their treatment, the longer it will take them to recover from the ordeal of having cancer.

Maidstone & Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust was the worst performing by the 62-day measure in 2018-19 but the health body said it has already made improvements which should see it hit the NHS’s target by the summer

Figures uncovered by the BBC show the number of hospital trusts leaving 15 per cent or more of people waiting too long has almost tripled since 2014.

Five years ago (2013/14) just 36 trusts were missing the 62-day target – that figure rose to 94 for 2018/19.

NHS England as a whole managed to treat just 79.4 per cent of people within 62 days of their urgent referral from a GP, while 32,000 people waited longer.

But there is wide variation among different areas of the country.

Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust, in Kent, was the worst performing, with just 60.8 per cent of people getting treatment within 62 days.

The hospital body insisted the situation there has improved since the figures were recorded.

A spokesperson said: ‘We have seen a large increase in demand with 23%per cent more suspected cancer referrals now than this time last year. 

‘We have made changes to our systems and processes as well as invested in additional staff and facilities to increase the number of patients we see, diagnose and treat. 

‘As a result, we have made significant improvements and are already in a much better place than the data published today shows. 

‘We are confident that we will hit the national 62 day wait cancer standard in the summer, in a sustainable way going forwards.’  

In all, 28 trusts failed to treat even three quarters of their patients on time – a measure that would still be significantly lower than the NHS target.

Wolverhampton, Weston, Southend, Bradford, University College London, Mid Essex, Hull and East Yorkshire and East and North Hertfordshire all treated fewer than 70 per cent of patients on time.

‘The longer people have to wait for diagnosis and get treatment, the longer it will impact them, their health and wellbeing and just getting through that experience,’ Macmillan Cancer Support’s Moira Fraser-Pearce told the BBC.

At the other end of the scale, the NHS in Kingston upon Thames smashed the target and treated 95.9 per cent of people within the 62-day limit.

Frimley, Bolton, Mid Cheshire and Tameside and Glossop all also posted figures higher than 90 per cent.


  1. Kingston Hospital (95.9%)
  2. Frimley Health (93.6%)
  3. Mid Cheshire Hospitals (92.2%)
  4. Bolton (92.2%)
  5. Tameside & Glossop Integrated Care (90.3%)
  6. Dartford & Gravesham (89.5%)
  7. Wrightington, Wigan & Leigh (89.5%)
  8. Chelsea & Westminster Hospitals (89.4%)
  9. Epsom & St Helier University Hospitals (88.8%)
  10. Barnsley Hospital (88.7%)


  1. Maidstone & Tunbridge Wells (60.8%)
  2. The Royal Wolverhampton (62.8%)
  3. Weston Area Health (67%)
  4. Southend University Hospital (67%)
  5. Bradford Teaching Hospitals (67.1%)
  6. University College London (68.4%)
  7. Mid Essex Hospital Services (68.5%)
  8. Hull & East Yorkshire Hospitals (69.2%)
  9. East & North Hertfordshire (69.2%)
  10. East Kent Hospitals University (70.7%)

Improving cancer survival rates is one of the NHS’s priorities and in its long-term plan this year it said investment would be ramped up in improving diagnostics.

New scanners, rapid diagnosis centres and more staff were all included in plans to boost survival rates. 

Monthly figures released today revealed the NHS’s performance has got worse on a number of other key measures.

These included an all-time low in the proportion of patients being seen by a cancer specialist within two weeks of a GP’s referral – the figure dropped below 90 per cent for the first time in April to 89.9 per cent.   

Two-week referrals for patients with breast symptoms also dropped to a record low of 75.5 per cent.

NHS trustTotal patients% within 62 daysNHS trustTotal patients% within 62 days
Maidstone & Tunbridge Wells1,464.5060.8James Paget University Hospitals714.581.6
The Royal Wolverhampton1,269.5062.8The Queen Elizabeth Hospital King’s Lynn790.581.7
Weston Area Health37967City Hospitals Sunderland1,032.5081.8
Southend University Hospital1,133.5067Medway922.581.8
Bradford Teaching Hospitals1,10567.1University Hospitals of North Midlands2,117.5081.9
University College London Hospitals1,11868.4East Cheshire392.581.9
Mid Essex Hospital Services1,36568.5University Hospitals Coventry & Warwickshire1,341.5081.9
Hull & East Yorkshire Hospitals1,984.5069.2Blackpool Teaching Hospitals1,12481.9
East & North Hertfordshire1,46169.2The Princess Alexandra Hospital66382
East Kent Hospitals University2,504.5070.7Surrey & Sussex Healthcare1,112.5082.1
Brighton & Sussex University Hospitals1,501.5071.2Buckinghamshire Healthcare1,06682.3
Leeds Teaching Hospitals2,485.5071.3South Tees Hospitals1,919.5082.5
Norfolk & Norwich University Hospitals2,08671.5West Hertfordshire Hospitals98682.7
Royal Surrey County Hospital1,03071.6The Dudley Group1,13182.9
Guy’s & St Thomas’1,62071.7North Bristol1,541.5082.9
Oxford University Hospitals2,153.5072.3Poole Hospital885.583.1
Worcestershire Acute Hospitals2,13772.3Royal Berkshire1,43683.3
East Sussex Healthcare1,408.5072.7Imperial College Healthcare1,10983.3
Royal Devon & Exeter2,122.5072.9Royal United Hospitals Bath1,322.5083.4
University Hospital Southampton1,84273.2Gateshead Health780.583.5
United Lincolnshire Hospitals2,093.5073.3East Lancashire Hospitals1,35883.6
Sheffield Teaching Hospitals2,23273.4Milton Keynes University Hospital77383.8
Gloucestershire Hospitals2,161.5073.6Chesterfield Royal Hospital90584.1
Plymouth Hospitals2,11973.8Salisbury75784.1
Northern Lincolnshire & Goole97274Portsmouth Hospitals1,692.5084.2
Pennine Acute Hospitals1,457.5074West Suffolk93984.3
Isle of Wight536.574.7North Tees & Hartlepool78084.8
Royal Liverpool & Broadgreen University Hospitals74374.7London North West Healthcare1,08684.9
East Suffolk & North Essex NHS Foundation Trust2,103.5075.1Royal Cornwall Hospitals1,72985
University Hospitals of Leicester2,84075.2The Hillingdon Hospitals542.585.3
North Middlesex University Hospital39675.5Walsall Healthcare524.585.5
Basildon & Thurrock University Hospitals1,16076.2University Hospitals Bristol1,32685.6
Bedford Hospital81876.8The Royal Bournemouth & Christchurch Hospitals1,510.5085.7
Lewisham & Greenwich1,028.5077.1Ashford & St Peter’s Hospitals99785.7
Taunton & Somerset1,10377.4Great Western Hospitals1,01085.8
Aintree University Hospital71877.5Doncaster & Bassetlaw Hospitals1,028.5085.8
Dorset County Hospital835.577.6Airedale52586.2
Northern Devon Healthcare589.578.1The Whittington Hospital304.586.2
Northampton General Hospital1,14578.1Harrogate & District674.586.3
University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay1,091.5078.2Kettering General Hospital783.586.4
Southport & Ormskirk Hospital484.578.2South Tyneside163.586.5
Hampshire Hospitals1,406.5078.3Countess of Chester Hospital740.586.6
Northumbria Healthcare1,13578.4Barts Health1,382.5086.7
University Hospitals Of Derby & Burton NHS Foundation Trust2,08178.4St George’s University Hospitals78286.7
The Newcastle Upon Tyne Hospitals2,26578.6Sandwell & West Birmingham Hospitals87186.7
Stockport674.578.7Barking, Havering & Redbridge University Hospitals1,535.5087
Torbay & South Devon1,106.5078.9County Durham & Darlington1,41587
George Eliot Hospital36178.9Croydon Health Services669.587.3
Royal Free London1,62679.4Warrington & Halton Hospitals49787.3
York Teaching Hospital1,64379.4Wirral University Teaching Hospital1,08487.7
North West Anglia1,592.5079.4Luton & Dunstable University Hospital777.587.7
Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust1,68379.5Homerton University Hospital35687.8
University Hospitals Birmingham2,80679.5Salford Royal819.588.2
Shrewsbury & Telford Hospital1,744.5079.5St Helens & Knowsley Hospital Services1,02088.3
King’s College Hospital1,467.5079.6Calderdale & Huddersfield1,15288.6
Nottingham University Hospitals2,009.5079.6Barnsley Hospital58288.7
Cambridge University Hospitals1,627.5079.8Epsom & St Helier University Hospitals834.588.8
Lancashire Teaching Hospitals1,510.5079.8Chelsea & Westminster Hospital69989.4
South Warwickshire78379.9Dartford & Gravesham449.589.5
Western Sussex Hospitals1,849.5080.1Wrightington, Wigan & Leigh72689.5
Wye Valley683.580.5Tameside & Glossop Integrated Care52890.3
Mid Yorkshire Hospitals1,42380.5Mid Cheshire Hospitals76992.2
Yeovil District Hospital67880.8Bolton71192.2
The Rotherham70181.4Frimley Health1,65593.6
Sherwood Forest Hospitals96681.4Kingston Hospital740.595.9
North Cumbria University Hospitals1,10281.5NB: It is unclear why some patient numbers end in .5