59,000 Londoners at Risk of a Late Cancer Diagnosis that Could Affect Their Outcomes


The latest Macmillan analysis estimates that since the start of the pandemic, more than 59,000 fewer Londoners have seen a specialist following an urgent suspected cancer referral from a GP putting them at risk of a late diagnosis that could affect their prognosis. This drop of 7% in London is the equivalent of urgent referrals having been suspended for nearly 2 months[iv]. Only about 84% of Londoners were seen by a specialist within 2 weeks of an urgent GP referral, against a national target of 93%. This target has now been missed in the capital for 13 consecutive months.

The number of people starting treatment for cancer in London in April 2022 was around 2,800, which is also below the pre-pandemic average. Macmillan analysis estimates that the NHS in London would need to work at 110% capacity for 14 months to clear the backlog of first cancer treatments[v].

Emma Tingley, Head of Partnerships in London at Macmillan Cancer Support, said:

“The latest data continues to illustrate the impact of the pandemic on cancer care. Thousands of people living in London are missing a diagnosis or start treatment later, which could affect their prognosis.

“All healthcare professionals and staff across the capital have been working and continue to work tirelessly to offer the best possible care, support people and save lives. But the Government urgently needs to develop a long-term, fully funded cancer workforce plan for the NHS to provide the best care for cancer patients, now and in the future.

“Macmillan continues to support both professionals and thousands of Londoners with cancer or cancer symptoms who may have faced disruption to their treatment or appointments and may be worrying about the long-term implications on their health, families and future.”

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.