Number of cancer referrals in London are still ‘worryingly low’, says Macmillan Cancer Support


New figures released by NHS England on cancer waiting times for July 2020 reveal how the coronavirus pandemic continues to wreak havoc on cancer care in the capital.

Although the figures show signs of improvement on those for April and May, thousands of Londoners with cancer or with cancer symptoms may have faced disruption to their tests or treatment, worrying about the long-term implications for their health, their families and their future.

In London, around 900 fewer people than expected started vital cancer treatment in July to save, extend or improve their lives. That’s 27% fewer than what we would expect. The figures for England as a whole show around 24% fewer treatments started than expected[iv].

Sara Bainbridge, Head of Policy & Influence at Macmillan Cancer Support, says:

“Today’s figures show there are still fewer people, compared to last year, having tests and treatment for cancer. This adds up to a worrying backlog.

“Behind each statistic is a real person whose prognosis and treatment options could be severely impacted by disruption during COVID-19. It’s vital that people see their GP if they have symptoms, and anyone who is worried about cancer needs to know that they’ll be seen promptly and safely.

“Cancer must not become the forgotten ‘C’ during this pandemic – we urgently need the Government to deliver the promised recovery plan and make sure the NHS has all the staffing and resources it needs to get cancer services back on track.”

Emma Tingley, Macmillan Strategic Partnerships Manager for London, adds:

“Cancer services in London seem to have been hit harder than other parts of the country however we still urge anyone with cancer symptoms that it is extremely important for them to contact their GP to limit the potential long-term impact of a delay in diagnosis.”

During the pandemic, Macmillan continues supporting people with cancer and gives them practical, emotional and financial help. We rely entirely on public donations and our income has dropped significantly. To donate to Macmillan Cancer Support’s emergency appeal please go to: or call 0300 1000 200.