ALMOST one in five cancer patients in south Worcestershire had to wait more than two months to start treatment in August, new figures reveal.

But Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust says it is doing all it can to treat patients faster.

NHS England figures show that only 81 per cent of NHS South Worcestershire CCG patients received their first cancer treatment within 62 days of a GP urgent referral in August. However, this is up from 77 per cent in August last year.

The NHS has a target for 85 per cent of all referrals to start treatment within two months.

Trust chief officer Paul Brennan said: “We are committed to ensuring that patients with suspected cancer are diagnosed and start appropriate treatment as soon as possible.

“Despite the growing demand on services and staff, our cancer performance – particularly for breast cancer patients getting a consultant appointment within two weeks of referral – has shown signs of improvement, but we know that we have more work to do to enable us to ensure as many patients as possible receive timely care.

“Working with our health and social care colleagues from across the county, we are focussed on reducing unnecessary attendances and admissions, improving patient flow through our hospitals, and ensuring patients are discharged home or to another appropriate setting as soon as they are fit, as we know that working as efficiently as possible will positively impact our performance standards.”

Matt Case, Cancer Research UK’s policy manager, said: “Too many patients are waiting too long after an urgent GP referral to get a diagnosis and start treatment. It’s already a stressful time for them, and delays can make that even worse.

“Diagnosing more cancers at an early stage is impossible without more people being referred for tests.

“But despite NHS staff working harder than ever, there just aren’t enough people to deliver the number of tests needed.

“These figures give us a monthly reminder of how much pressure the NHS is under.

“To have any chance of meeting its ambitions for early diagnosis, the government must invest to make sure we have enough key cancer staff now and in the future.”