Despite improvement, London misses its cancer waiting times targets again


NHS England just released the latest cancer waiting times figures and London has missed its key cancer waiting times targets again. Performance is down compared to the same period in 2019 and below the average for England. In September waiting times across the capital for those starting first treatment showed improvement compared to August but have still not bounced back to pre-pandemic levels. However, waiting times to see a specialist following an urgent GP referral were at their worst in London since April.

In September 2020, the number of people in London being seen by a specialist for suspected cancer following an urgent GP referral was 3% below 2019 levels. In England, there was an increase of 2%.

The number of Londoners starting treatment for cancer was 6% below 2019 levels. Across England, the drop was 5%.

The number of people in the capital starting treatment for cancer following urgent GP referral for suspected cancer was 7% below 2019 levels. The equivalent drop across England was negligible.

In addition, the number of people across London starting treatment for cancer following a cancer screening appointment was 69% below 2019 levels in September 2020. England’s corresponding drop was 61%.

In October 2020, there were around 65,500 emergency admissions for all causes (not just cancer) across all London hospitals, which signals a 15% drop compared to October 2019. Under normal circumstances, we would expect around 1 in 5 (23%) cancer diagnoses in London to take place following an emergency presentation, and cancer patients in England to have an average of 3 emergency admissions in their last year of life