The diagnosis of cancer is one of the moments in life we all dread and hope never to face as the news is not only devastating for the patient but also their families. This can be even more distressing if there has been a delay in diagnosis or treatment as this delay may mean the prospects of recovery is reduced or more aggressive treatment is required had the diagnosis been acted upon earlier.
There are of course waiting time targets for diagnosis and treatment of cancer and these targets aim to ensure that the patients don’t have to wait too long to find out their diagnosis and to start their treatment.
According to Cancer Research UK the current targets are as follows:-
- Urgent referral for suspected cancer: you should see a specialist within 2 weeks of being referred by your GP, dentist or nurse. This applies only in England and a suspected breast cancer in Northern Ireland.
- Waiting for tests: a specialist may need to do a variety of tests to decide on the diagnosis and the stage of cancer. This can take a couple of weeks or more dependent upon the availability of the tests and the hospital you go to.
- Waiting for results: a specialist doctor needs to examine your test results and write a report. They send the report to your cancer specialist who will give you the results. It usually takes a couple of weeks for the results to come through, but it might be ready sooner if your specialist puts urgent on the test request form.
- Waiting to start your treatment: you should start your treatment within 31 days of agreeing on a treatment plan with your specialist, or within 62 days of being referred for suspected cancer.
However, these targets are not always met due to various factor such as staff shortages, high demand and COVID–19 pandemic. The Guardian reported in December 2022 that the number of cancer patients facing delays in seeing a specialist for the first time when starting their treatment had hit record highs in England 2022. The article estimated that half a million people with suspected cancer will have to wait longer than the supposed 2 week maximum to see an oncologist, and more than 75,000 people confirmed to have cancer will not start their treatment within the 31 or 62 days that hospitals try to guarantee.
At mfg we have a dedicated team of specialists who have considerable experience in dealing with claims arising from delays in the treatment of Cancer. We will always handle every enquiry sensitively and empathetically to see if we can help.