- A report commissioned by Cancer Research UK finds that British oncologists are concerned by the rising demand for National Health Services (NHS) cancer services -- and an inability to keep up with this demand.
- The report was based on a survey of 450 NHS cancer personnel, as well as 45 of the top UK-based oncologists.
- Since 2009, there has been a 50% increase in referrals from primary care physicians who suspect a patient may have cancer. That translates into 1.4 million patients for the 2013-14 period.
Citing numerous dislocations at the national and local levels, surveyed respondents on the front lines of cancer care expressed their concerns about several looming problems that have rippled throughout the system. The result: Patients have to wait longer after a referral to gain access to cancer care. Guidelines state that there should be a 62-day target wait between an urgent referral and first treatment -- but the ability to meet that target has now dropped below 85%.
Respondents also cite other dislocations that have fragmented the cancer care system in the UK, including a disrupted patient pathway, loss of leadership, poorly defined roles and responsibilities, and a lack of funding.
Public Health Minister Jane Ellison responded to the report by asserting that cancer care is still a national priority in the UK, evidenced by the fact that the British government invested more than $1.2 billion in improving early diagnosis and treatment over the last four years. But that logic is unlikely to mitigate the concerns of doctors on the front-lines of cancer care.