Comment: New NHS cancer diagnosis strategy is a step in the right direction

29th March 2019

A Junior Litigation Executive at Fletchers Solicitors has welcomed the news that the NHS are looking to overhaul the existing cancer diagnosis strategy so patients can receive treatment sooner.

Jessica Sephton, who works in Fletcher’s Medical Negligence Department, said the following:

There isn’t a single one of us who either directly or indirectly, hasn’t been affected by cancer.

As many as 163,444 people have died in the UK from cancer since 2016 and yet still, many patients are waiting too long to receive a diagnosis and treatment following cancer scares and referrals.

Latest figures from NHS England show that only half of patients are diagnosed with cancer in the early stages, and nearly one in four of those wait far longer than the standard two months they should to receive treatment.

This is reported to be the worst performance since records began.

Fortunately, it seems as though steps are being taken to ensure that this scary statistic can be changed.

According to Cancer Research UK, NHS England are currently working towards a ‘Faster Diagnosis Standard’ (FDS) target, meaning that the potentially prolonged journey from referral to diagnosis could take no longer than 28 days.

From April 2019, hospitals throughout the UK will be encouraged start actioning the FDS for patients who are urgently referred from cervical screenings, with suspected bowel or breast cancer. From April 2020, hospitals will be expected to show that they have met this target and how they intend to continue meeting it.

Currently, over half of cancers are diagnosed at a late stage in England, and it’s refreshing to see that action is being taken to change this terrifying figure.

It was only in the past few weeks that Lisa Pamman’s case hit the headlines. Lisa, a GP Health Manager, reported that after 18 months of abdominal pains and numerous trips to her GP and local A&E department she was diagnosed with late-stage bowel cancer. She then subsequently didn’t receive treatment for a further 3 months.

Unfortunately, in my role at Fletchers Solicitors, I frequently deal with cases on behalf of claimants who could have so easily been seen quicker, referred sooner and received swifter treatment such that the likelihood of remission seems far from reality.

To know that NHS England are making even the slightest improvements to the process in which patients are seen can only be a step in the right direction to ensure that the unacceptable practices we see on a daily basis will change for the better.  

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