Official NHS figures released last week showed 17,000 patients waiting longer than the recommended six-week limit for tests– the highest number since for six years.
The patients had been referred by GPs for tests that detect cancer – including MRI scans, ultrasounds and endoscopies – and other life-threatening illnesses.
NHS guidance states no patient should wait longer than six weeks for the tests, but 16,981 waited longer than that in the latest figures for the months of April – up from 7,788 last April and almost five times the figure at the time of the last election.
These figures include:
3,427 patients waiting over 6 weeks for endoscopy tests that detect bowel and stomach cancers (Colonoscopy, Flexi Sigmoidoscopy, Cystoscopy and Gastroscopy) – up from 2,037 last April and 976 at the election.
6,117 patients waiting for ultrasound tests - not including pregnant women – up from 1,326 last year and 291 at the election.
2,439 waiting too long for MRI scans compared to 374 at the election and 859 waiting too long for CT scans – that both detect cancer - compared to 215 at the election.
Dr Matt Lamb, Labour Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for Wyre Forest said:
“Every day, yet more evidence emerges showing an NHS heading seriously downhill under David Cameron.
“Patients are waiting longer for crucial tests – causing stress and real anguish for worried families. Two weeks ago, the NHS missed the cancer treatment target for the first time ever and these delays have clearly played a part in that. All the progress made on cancer care in the last decade is now at risk.
“Labour warned David Cameron about the impact of his NHS re-organisation on patient care. He chose not to listen and now patients are paying the price. This is yet more proof you can’t trust the Tories with the NHS”.
Number of patients waiting over 6-week standard for diagnostic tests:
May 2010 : 3495 April 2013 :7788 April 2014 :16981
Source: Monthly Diagnostic Waiting Times and Activity, NHS England: http://www.england.nhs.uk/statistics/statistical-work-areas/diagnostics-waiting-times-and-activity/monthly-diagnostics-waiting-times-and-activity/monthly-diagnostics-data-2014-15/