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King's Fund - Some of today’s cancer figures show that the NHS can still improve care for patients despite the challenges it is facing

Siva Anandaciva, Chief Analyst at The King’s Fund, responded to the latest NHS performance data

‘As the NHS comes out of a tough winter, it is encouraging to see some green shoots in these statistics showing that improvements have been made in several key measures of cancer care. In March, 77% of people had their cancer diagnosed or ruled out within 28 days of referral, surpassing the national target of 75%.  

‘Some of today’s cancer figures show that the NHS can still improve care for patients despite the challenges it is facing. But the road to further progress in recovering performance in other areas of the NHS, including reducing lengthy waiting times for planned care and A&E, is long. The hospital waiting list remains stubbornly high at 7.5 million in March, representing 6.3 million people waiting, often in pain or unable to work, for treatment.  

‘A&E departments also continue to be under extreme strain as we head towards summer, with over 2.2 million attendances in April, and only 74% of people being seen within four hours. The NHS’s recovery plan contains many sensible proposals to deliver better urgent and emergency care for patients. The increased spotlight in recent years on the longest waits in A&E departments is welcome and much needed. More than 42,000 people waited more than 12 hours last month in A&E after a decision was made to admit them to hospital. 

‘It has been nearly a decade since A&E performance targets were reliably met, and there is little prospect of performance substantially improving in the near future. It is patients and staff who are bearing the brunt of the deterioration in NHS performance over the past ten years.   

‘Successive governments have failed to invest in services to keep people well and outside of hospital. At the same time, NHS buildings and equipment have been allowed to degrade and become dilapidated. The government will need to prioritise both these areas if it wants patients to receive the urgent and emergency care they truly need.’ 

Notes to editors

For further information, or to request an interview, please contact the Press and Public Affairs team on 020 7307 2585. 

The King's Fund is an independent charity working to improve health and care in England. We help to shape policy and practice through research and analysis; develop individuals, teams and organisations; promote understanding of the health and social care system; and bring people together to learn, share knowledge and debate. Our vision is that the best possible health and care is available to all. 

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