80,000 fewer people than expected have seen a cancer specialist in London since the start of the pandemic


According to NHS England’s recently published Cancer Waiting Times data for April 2021, the number of people who have seen a specialist for suspected cancer in London since the start of the pandemic is more than 80,000 lower than expected, a drop of 17%.

London has also seen a drop of 12% in the number of people who started treatment for cancer between March 2020 and April 2021 – 5,000 fewer people compared with average figures from 2019.

In April, just 76.6% of patients started cancer treatment within 62 days of an urgent GP referral. This is against a target of 85%.

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

“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 these figures highlight the scale of the challenge still facing the NHS. We must not forget that they represent real people with suspected cancer who’ve faced agonising changes and unacceptably long waits for diagnosis and treatment throughout the pandemic.

“NHS cancer care is beset by a chronic shortage of staffing and resources. Patients and staff urgently need the Government to do more to fix this problem. It must deliver a long-term, fully funded plan for the workforce which increases the number of staff and covers training, retention and pay, so the enormous challenges which lie ahead for cancer care can be effectively managed.

“We also know that there are still thousands of people ‘missing’ a cancer diagnosis and so we continue to urge people to contact their GP if they notice something that could be a cancer symptom.

“Macmillan continues and will continue to support both professionals and thousands of Londoners with cancer or cancer symptoms who may have faced disruption to their treatment or appointments.”

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.