LABOUR HAS accused the Government of letting down hundreds of cancer patients across the Yorkshire region as hospitals in England struggle to hit targets on waiting times.
According to the party’s research, the number of people waiting longer than the desired two months for treatment has increased by almost 300 per cent since 2010.
In Yorkshire, the figures for Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust show the target of seeing 85 per cent of patients within the time frame have been missed in 18 of the last 26 quarters.
And in Hull and East Yorkshire Hospital NHS Trust the 85 per cent target has been missed in 16.
Speaking to The Yorkshire Post, Shadow Health Secretary Jonathan Ashworth says such delays are creating unnecessary “stress and anxiety” for patients and families across the country.
But he argues it is not the hospitals that are at fault, it is the Government for underfunding services.
“These hit and miss figures are extremely worrying for patients in need of urgent cancer treatment at Leeds Hospital, and indeed the wider Yorkshire area it serves,” he said.
“To miss a waiting time target by nearly 10 per cent in the last quarter is not good enough for the people of Yorkshire that need urgent cancer treatment.
“The staff at Leeds Teaching Hospital deserve nothing but respect for the work they are doing to treat and support their patients, but the truth of the matter is, they are underfunded.
“The Tories are failing patients and much more needs to be done to ensure that patients get the care they desperately need without delays.”
Under current NHS guidelines, hospitals should aim to begin treatment for at least 85 per cent of cancer patients within two months – or 62 days – of referral.
The Government has described meeting this target as a key objective in its mandate to NHS England for 2016-17.
A number of hospitals have successfully managed to meet these standards year on year, including Rotherham and Harrogate.
However, the Labour figures show that nationally, the number of people waiting longer than 62 days for treatment has seen a steady rise since 2010.
For example, in 2009/10 86.6 per cent of patients in England received treatment within the timeframe, leaving 6,444 with a longer wait.
In 2015/16, just 82.4 per cent were seen, leaving 24,035 to face an additional wait.
In Yorkshire, the number of patients who are not being seen within 62 days runs into the hundreds.
In Leeds, 224 have patients waited longer than two months for treatment in the last six months alone.
The party has also published waiting time figures for A&E, which show some patients have been forced to wait almost four times longer than the recommended 12 hours for treatment or admission.
One example includes a patient at York Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust who waited for 26 hours.
Commenting on the findings, Mr Ashworth stated that “missed targets are unfortunately not limited to cancer treatment”.
“Far too many patients are being forced to wait on trolleys in overcrowded A&E departments,” he said.
Responding to the figures, a Department of Health spokesperson said: “Cancer survival rates are at a record high under this Government – in fact, last week data shows that because the quality of NHS cancer care has improved so much over the past year, an extra 2,400 families will be able to celebrate the holidays this Christmas with a loved one.
“The NHS is meeting seven out of the eight cancer waiting times standards, despite an increase of over 90 per cent in urgent referrals.”