The number of hospitals failing to meet cancer waiting time targets has trebled in just one year, Labour has warned.
Fresh analysis of a report concerning the performance of NHS Foundation Trusts – bodies seen as a hallmark of excellence in the health service – showed a growing number failed to meet the target of treating 85% of patients within 62 days of an urgent GP referral.
The report, by healthcare regulator Monitor, says that “performance against cancer waiting time targets has steadily deteriorated over the past year.”
It shows that in the first four months of 2013/14, eight trusts failed to meet the target. For the same period in 2014/15 this figure had risen to 27, the report shows.
Meanwhile, Labour also said that spending on cancer services has been cut by £800 million in four years.
In response to a Parliamentary question from Labour MP Debbie Abrahams, Public Health Minister Jane Ellison said that e stimated real-terms expenditure on cancer services was £ 5.68 billion in 2012/13 – a decrease from £ 5.91 billion in 2009/10.
Labour said the figures show a £790 million real terms cut in spending since 2010.
Labour’s shadow health secretary Andy Burnham said: “(Health Secretary) Jeremy Hunt should stand up before the Tory conference today and order an immediate halt to these disgraceful cuts to cancer care.
“On his watch, people are waiting longer for treatment and tests and now we know why.
“This is why people can’t trust him and David Cameron with the NHS. He should apologise and produce a plan to bring cancer services back up to the national standard.”
A Department of Health spokeswoman said: “Survival rates are improving and we are treating record numbers of NHS patients for cancer. Last year, 450,000 more patients were referred with suspected cancer than in 2009/10, an increase of 51%. A recent survey showed 89% of cancer patients rated their care as excellent or very good.
“We have prioritised cancer, investing three-quarters of a billion pounds over four years and just last month, we announced an extra £160 million for the Cancer Drugs Fund and £6 million towards a new type of radiotherapy.”