NHS Sees Record Number of People In March, Following Urgent Cancer Referrals

Priscilla Lynch 

May 18, 2021

A record number of people were referred for urgent suspected cancer testing through the NHS in March, new figures have revealed.

More than 230,000 people with suspected cancer were seen that month as COVID-19 cases declined, while 300,000 more diagnostic tests were carried out by the NHS in March than in February.

In the first three months of 2021, the NHS treated over 150,000 COVID-19 patients and admitted a further 2.75 million non-COVID patients (400,000 COVID hospital inpatients have been treated since the start of pandemic).

Operations and other elective activity were already at four-fifths of pre-pandemic levels in April this year, well ahead of the 70% target set out in official guidance, the NHS said.

Median waits for routine operations fell last month — from 12.6 weeks to 11.6 weeks — significantly down from 19.6 weeks in July 2020, whereas 52-week waits are still below the previous historic high of 579,000 in August 2007.

During COVID-19, NHS teams have put a range of measures in place such as COVID-19 protected cancer surgery hubs, so people could be treated safely, with more than 27,700 people starting their first NHS treatment for cancer during March and more than 19 in 20 treated within the one-month target.

The NHS is now seeking to accelerate the recovery of care services by trialling new ways of working in a dozen areas across England and five specialist children's hospitals.

NHS elective accelerators will each receive a share of £160 million along with additional support to implement and evaluate innovative ways to increase the number of elective operations they deliver.

Dame Cally Palmer, NHS Cancer Director said: "From COVID friendly cancer drugs to fast tracking specialist radiotherapy for patients, NHS staff have gone to great lengths to ensure cancer treatment could continue safely throughout the pandemic."

References:

NHS sees record number of people in March, following urgent cancer referrals. NHS. 2021 May 13.

This article originally appeared on Univadis, part of the Medscape Professional Network

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