The NHS has seen its busiest year in history during March 2015 to March 2016. Nearly 23 million people attended A&E during this period and March 2015 saw its highest monthly figure on record for attendances at A&E, which reached 2 million.
These figures demonstrate the increased demand on our public health system and is causing an endless number of concerns for both doctors and patients alike.
There is now significant concern around the number of cancer operations which are regularly being cancelled. During the winter period, routine operations are often cancelled if there is pressure on hospital beds, but cancer treatment always continues with very few exceptions due to its serious nature. But things have now changed.
The number of cancer operations which are cancelled on the day of surgery has more than doubled over the last five years. The guidelines for hospitals in England state that cancer patients should be seen within 31 days and primary treatment should be given within 62 days. Targets are however being missed at an increased proportion and patients’ lives are left hanging in the balance.
Our concerns lie in the questions around the impact that this will have upon patients’ conditions and the future risks to their health.
So, what does this mean for the patients? Delays in cancer treatment generate an increased risk in the cancer spreading (metastasising) and this can reduce the chances of recovery. The timeframe here however is enigmatic because it depends upon the type of cancer and the severity of a patient’s condition.
Whilst the NHS is struggling to keep its head above water and manage its increased demand with unsuitable staff numbers and an over-stretched pound; this should not deter us from the fact that patients’ lives and their future health are in jeopardy.