57,000 fewer Londoners have seen a specialist for suspected cancer


The pandemic severely disrupted the already overstretched cancer care system in London.

Since the pandemic started, 57,000 fewer Londoners with suspected cancer symptoms have seen a specialist following an urgent referral. Although the NHS data for March saw an increase in visits to specialists, the overall drop of 7% is the equivalent of referrals being suspended for 8 weeks.

There are also 4,000 fewer Londoners having started cancer treatment than expected[iii], which means that the NHS in London would need to work at 110% capacity for 13 months to clear the backlog of first treatments.[iv] However, despite this month’s progress, it has still not been possible for the NHS in London to achieve 110% activity in any month in the past two years[v].

Emma Tingley, Head of Partnerships for London and South & East at Macmillan Cancer Support, said:

“Macmillan analysis is telling us month after month for two years now that regardless of how hard our overworked and overstretched healthcare professionals keep working, Londoners are still struggling to be diagnosed and treated for cancer on time, which could impact quality of care and even prognosis. Macmillan continues to support our NHS workforce and people with cancer or cancer symptoms across the capital as much as possible, but it is up to the Government to address the chronic staff shortages and invest in the workforce.”

For support, contact our specially trained nurses and experts on the Macmillan Support Line, 0808 808 00 00 (8am-8pm, 7 days/week) or visit macmillan.org.uk.