NHS cancer check

NHS hits new cancer check record

For the first time, NHS cancer checks have reached more than three million in a year, as the health service continues to harness faster and earlier diagnosis.

Between March 2023 and February 2024, NHS England (NHSE) analysis shows 3,035,698 urgent cancer referrals – in the 12 months after March 2013, the number was closer to 1,335,350.

February alone saw over a quarter of a million checks delivered, which is over 10% more than February 2023.

NHSE also exceeded the 28-day faster cancer diagnosis standard for the first time last week – more than three-quarters (78%) of people received an all-clear or a diagnosis within four weeks.

A National Health Executive online conference detailed the state of NHS diagnostics earlier this year, along with patient flow, digital infrastructure as well as the role of insourcing.

Andrew Stephenson comment

“Despite a challenging year for the NHS as everyone worked to recover services, record numbers of people were referred by hardworking GPs for vital checks, with over three million referrals over the last year,” said NHSE’s clinical director for cancer, Professor Peter Johnson.

The extra referrals could be put down to NHSE’s continuous awareness campaigns and community-based capacity.

This includes cancer messaging in pubs and football stadiums, as well as lung trucks around supermarkets and surgical hubs.

The government has also recently announced that vital checks are being delivered across 160 Community Diagnostic Centre (CDC) sites, meeting its target nearly a year early.

Health minister, Andrew Stephenson MP, recently authored a piece in National Health Executive’s digital magazine to explain how the CDC programme is progressing.

He said: “We are committed to seeing and treating cancer patients through earlier diagnosis and improving survival rates, and have invested record funding into cancer support, including £2.3bn for 160 CDCs to make it even easier to access local support.”

Image credit: iStock

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