One in five patients are waiting longer than two months to have cancerous tumours removed in some parts of England, according to Labour analysis the party said revealed a “postcode lottery” in NHS cancer care.
It said NHS data showed that 20% of patients in the West Midlands, Thames Valley, and Surrey and Sussex are forced to wait for more than eight weeks following a cancer diagnosis.
In Greater Manchester, it is fewer than one in 10.
Nearly half of patients requiring chemotherapy in West Yorkshire and Harrogate have to wait that long, more than twice as many as in Oxfordshire and surrounding areas, according to Labour.
The Opposition said its analysis also found that people in poorer parts of the country are more likely to have a late cancer diagnosis.
Some 47% of cancer patients in the most deprived communities are diagnosed late, while it is 39% in the least deprived.
So far this year, more than 95,000 people with an urgent referral for suspected cancer have had to wait more than two weeks to see a consultant, Labour said.
Shadow public health minister Andrew Gwynne said: “Receiving the fast and quality cancer care should not depend on your postcode.
“Thirteen years of Conservative mismanagement of the NHS has left the health service unable to be there for too many people when they need it.
“Getting cancer patients treated on time again will be a mission of the next Labour government.”
A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: “Cancer survival rates are improving, with the overall first year survival rate up 9% to 75%.
We’re announcing a £21 million fund to enable the NHS to roll out cutting-edge AI diagnostic support tools this winter.
— Department of Health and Social Care (@DHSCgovuk) June 23, 2023
“More people are also being seen and treated by record numbers of staff than ever before but we know there is more to do.
“That is why we have made cutting waiting lists one of the Government’s top five priorities backed by a long-term workforce plan.
“We have also opened 114 community diagnostic centres delivering 4.6 million tests, including to detect cancer.”
A source close to Health Secretary Steve Barclay said: “The Health Secretary recently announced further action on addressing inequalities in cancer outcomes with a national rollout of the hugely successful lung cancer screening programme.
“No such initiative exists in the Labour-run Welsh NHS, where cancer patients also wait longer to start treatment.”