Clearing the UK Cancer Backlog From the Elective Procedures Stop Could Take Until 2033
“Behind these statistics are thousands of people for whom it will now be too late to cure their cancer”
Delays in cancer treatment caused by the [insane response to the] pandemic will continue for more than a decade, a report suggests.
An estimated 19,500 people with cancer in England have not been diagnosed due to missed referrals, according to the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPS) think tank and the CF health consultancy. Delayed diagnosis means the backlogs in chemotherapy and radiotherapy could take until 2028 and 2033 to clear, the study predicts.
Even if “stretched” hospitals could achieve 5 per cent more treatments and procedures than before the pandemic, it would take until 2033 to clear the cancer treatment “missing patients backlog”. The report suggests that if the figure could be pushed up to 15 per cent, backlogs could be cleared by next year.
The [insane response to the] pandemic has led to a 37 per cent drop in endoscopies, a 25 per cent drop in MRI scans and a 10 per cent drop in CT scans, according to the report.
While the number of people who need cancer treatment has not changed, 369,000 fewer people than usual were referred to a specialist with suspected cancer between March last year and February this year. There were 187,000 fewer chemotherapy treatments and 15,000 fewer radiotherapy treatments.
“Behind these statistics are thousands of people for whom it will now be too late to cure their cancer,” the report says. “We estimate that the number of cancers diagnosed while they are still highly curable (stage one and two) fell from 44 per cent before the pandemic to 41 per cent last year.” [That’s without including the 10,500 missed diagnoses in the 100 per cent total.]
Dr Parth Patel, IPPR research fellow and an NHS doctor, said that the health service “faces an enormous backlog of care that threatens to disrupt services for well over a decade. We know every delay poses risks to patients’ chances of survival. Clearing the cancer care backlog before the next general election looks unlikely with the way the NHS is currently resourced, staffed and organised.”
Chris Thomas, IPPR senior research fellow, said: “Returning cancer care to its pre-pandemic state is not sufficiently ambitious.”
Baroness Morgan of Drefelin, chief executive of Breast Cancer Now, said: “These alarming estimates lay bare just how urgently investment in equipment, and crucially in NHS staffing, is needed to avoid a devastating decade of further disruption to cancer diagnosis and treatment.
“Between the start of the Covid-19 pandemic in March 2020 and May 2021, around 10,000 fewer women in England were diagnosed and started treatment for breast cancer. Finding and treating these women must be an absolute priority.”
Source: The Times