THE Dudley Trust is not meeting a key cancer treatment target, figures show.

Figures from NHS England show cancer patients at the Dudley Trust are not being seen quickly enough.

The NHS has long had a target that 85 per cent of cancer patients with an urgent referral should start treatment within 62 days but more recently it has said it expects trusts to improve performance against the 62-day standard to 70 per cent – where services have reduced backlogs to manageable levels.

However, NHS England data shows just 58 per cent of cancer patients urgently referred to the Dudley Group NHS Foundation Trust in January began treatment within two months of their referral.

That was down from 68 per cent in December, but up from 54 per cent in January 2023.

Diane Wake, chief executive of the Dudley Group, said: “Oncology capacity is a challenge as we are diagnosing and treating more people for cancer since the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Our staff are continuing to work hard to reduce cancer waiting lists and ensure that patients who need a procedure are seen as quickly as possible, in order of clinical need and urgency.”

The proportion of patients in England waiting longer than 62 days in January from an urgent suspected cancer referral or consultant upgrade to their first definitive treatment for cancer was 62 per cent, down from 66 per cent in December and below the target of 85 per cent.

Minesh Patel, head of policy at Macmillan Cancer Support, said the delays "can’t go on".

He added: "Healthcare professionals are doing all they can but are working in a permanent state of crisis.

"If the UK Government acts now, we can turn this around and ensure our cancer system is fit for purpose in the years to come.

"We need a long-term cancer strategy in England that provides the investment and focus needed so that everybody with a cancer diagnosis gets the timely and quality care they deserve."

Professor Pat Price, who co-founded the #CatchUpWithCancer campaign, described the situation as "a disaster for cancer patients" and called for "a radical new cancer plan and a clear implementation plan to improve waiting times and cancer survival".

A separate NHS target aims for 75 per cent of patients with suspected cancer to be diagnosed or have the disease ruled out within 28 days – at the Dudley Trust, 83 per cent of patients were seen within that timeframe.

Diane Wake, at Dudley Group, said: “We are exceeding targets to diagnose or rule out cancer within 28 days, which is a testament to the hard work of staff within our cancer services.”

Across England, 71 per cent of patients urgently referred were given a conclusive diagnosis, down from 74 per cent the previous month and below the target of 75 per cent.

GPs across England made 250,000 urgent cancer referrals in the month – a rise from 220,000 in December and 228,000 in January 2023.

An NHS spokesperson said: "The NHS is seeing and treating record numbers of people for cancer, with 30 per cent more people being treated last year than in 2015-16 and almost three million people receiving potentially lifesaving cancer checks in the last 12 months, ensuring more people than ever before have been diagnosed at an early stage and cancer survival is at an all-time high.

"It is vital that people come forward if they are concerned about cancer symptoms – getting checked early saves lives."