An expert injury and negligence solicitor has warned of an upturn in claims arising from delays in cancer treatment following new national performance targets being introduced.
David Lydon, a Senior Personal Injury Clinical Negligence specialist at Midlands law firm mfg Solicitors, says that simplified NHS standards which measure waiting times for cancer diagnosis and treatment have been slimmed down to just three in a bid to speed up diagnosis times and improve cancer care.
However, Mr Lydon has pointed to figures from Cancer Research UK which reveal that only 62% of people in England started their first treatment within the targeted two weeks of an urgent referral - way below the 85% timing target – a figure which he believes is already contributing to an increase in claims.
Mr Lydon said: “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 than if 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.
“However, these targets are not being met 100% of the time, meaning that the opening for claims has become ever wider.
“Due to our experience in dealing with these claims, we have also seen an upturn in people approaching us for advice and help through the process. It’s a trend I can only see continuing.”
Mr Lydon added that the Covid pandemic has played a major role in delays to the diagnosis and treatment of cancer cases, but the NHS said a record 335,000 people started treatment for cancer in the last year (July 2022 – June 2023), up by over 20,000 on same period before the pandemic, from July 2018 – June 2019.
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