Almost one in four of Lincolnshire West Clinical Commissioning Group’s cancer patients waited two months or more to start treatment following a referral from their GP.
Between October 2017 and September 2018, 761 cancer patients were urgently referred to hospital by their GP, but 172 did not start their treatment within 62 days, according to the latest NHS figures.
The Government has a target of 85 per cent of referrals to start treatment within two months.
This is to allow for the minority of patients who choose to delay their course of treatment.
This may include chemotherapy, surgery or radiation therapy.
In Lincolnshire West CCG, which looks after six GP surgeries in the area including Gainsborough, Saxilby and Ingham, 77 per cent of patients began treatment within two months of an urgent GP referral, well below the NHS target.
That is higher than in 2016-17, when 74 per cent of patients started treatment two months after referral.
Sarah-Jane Mills, chief operating officer at NHS Lincolnshire West Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “Cancer is one of our main priorities as an organisation and we have been working very hard with our colleagues at ULHT to improve our performance in relation to the 62 day target.
“In recent months, we have seen a steady and sustained improvement in our 62 day target performance, but we know that we can’t be complacent.
“There are a multitude of factors that can affect performance.
“We continue to work with colleagues in the acute hospitals and across the East Midlands on a number of programmes to ensure that people in Lincolnshire receive the cancer care and treatment that they deserve.”
Dr Fran Woodard, executive director of policy and impact at Macmillan Cancer Support, said: “These figures are further evidence of a worrying trend which demonstrates that the pressure on cancer services is truly beginning to bite.
“We must not forget that at the heart of these figures are thousands of cancer patients anxiously waiting for referral for diagnosis or to start treatment.”
She said it is “imperative” the Government addresses the challenges facing the workforce in the NHS Long Term Plan.
“We cannot expect world-class cancer care for patients in the future without enough staff with the right skills to deliver it.”
Across England the percentage of patients starting treatment within two months has dropped from 87 per cent in 2012-2013, to 80 per cent in the first half of 2018-19.
The operational target hasn’t been hit since 2013.