NHS England, the body tasked with improving health outcomes for people in England, has recently published the latest worrying statistics on waiting times for diagnostic tests and procedures. These reveal that, In April 2014, almost 17,000 patients had been waiting more than six weeks for a scan or investigation to diagnose their condition. The figure has doubled in a year.
There has been a significant increase in demand for investigations and tests in recent years with greater awareness of the early signs and symptoms and of the benefits of early diagnosis and treatment in improving long-term prognosis for many conditions. It is very well publicised that patients with cancer do far better if the disease is spotted and treated early than if it is detected only in later stages.
Long waiting times for diagnostic tests are also contrary to the NHS's own constitution, which provides that nobody should have to wait more than six weeks. These latest data will concern many who are waiting for tests for insidious diseases and increasing their anxiety at an already stressful time.
Leading charities such as Macmillan Cancer Support are now calling for hospital trusts and politicians to act to reverse the increase in waiting times for these vital tests. This comes on the back of recent reports that, once diagnosed, many patients are also having to wait longer for treatment.