Shockingly low numbers of Britons with cancer are being treated within the standard target, which is set at 62 days, new data has revealed. 

The two-month target has been a government pledge since 2000, but hasn’t been met since 2015 and has never been written into law.

Now, House of Commons Library research commissioned by the Liberal Democrats found that fewer than one in four cancer patients were treated within this time frame in some areas last year.

The party said the findings suggest there’s a “cancer care postcode lottery” across the country and it is calling for a legal guarantee for cancer patients to receive treatment within the designated window.

Some hospitals across Liverpool, Cambridge and Wolverhampton treated less than 50 percent of cancer patients within 62 days.

At Liverpool Women’s NHS Trust, just 23 percent of patients were treated within this time. At Royal Papworth, it was 38 percent and at Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust, it was just 44 percent. 

Around 31 other NHS Trusts saw more than four in 10 patients not being treated within the 62 days in 2023. 

On the other hand, at the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital NHS Trust, 93 percent of patients were treated within two months, and at Calderdale and Huddersfield NHS Trust, it was 88 percent. 

Furthermore, University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Trust had the highest number of patients treated outside of the standard, with 2,877 not receiving treatment within the window. 

At University Hospitals Sussex NHS Trust, it was 2,424 and at University Hospitals Leicester NHS Trust, it was 2,327.

Overall, nearly 100,000 cancer patients in England did not start their treatment within the 62-day target last year. 

Around 64 percent of cancer patients started their treatment within the two months, which is below the government target of 85 percent.

You can have a look at your local area in the interactive map below. The data for this map was obtained from the integrated care board.

The Liberal Democrats are now calling for a legal two-month cancer treatment guarantee, to bring this postcode lottery of cancer care to an end. Liberal Democrat Health and Social Care spokesperson, Daisy Cooper MP said: “It is heart-wrenching to see such a stark postcode lottery of cancer care across the country. We know how important it is to find and treat cancer early to give people the best chance of survival.

“Behind every single one of these numbers is a story of fear, discomfort and anxiety for thousands of families up and down the country. 

“Every patient should be entitled to a legal right to start their treatment within two months to give them the best chance of beating this horrific disease. 

“We need urgent investment in cancer facilities in the NHS, including radiotherapy machines and more cancer nurses. It has to be a driving force behind our attitude to healthcare to get cancer patients the treatment they deserve.”

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