BARNSLEY Hospital is not meeting a key cancer treatment target - prompting a leading charity to state that cancer care is in a ‘permanent state of crisis’.

New figures from NHS England show that 60 out of 88 cancer patients urgently referred to Barnsley Hospital in January received treatment within two months of their referral.

That’s a 68 per cent success rate - against the NHS target of 85 per cent.

A month previously when 71 patients were referred, 50 were treated within 62 days.

In January 2023, 79 out of 101 patients were treated within this period.

The proportion of patients in England waiting longer than 62 days in January from an urgent suspected cancer referral or consultant upgrade to their first definitive treatment for cancer was 62 per cent, down from 66 per cent in December and below the target of 85 per cent.

Minesh Patel, head of policy at Macmillan Cancer Support, said these delays ‘can’t go on’.

“Healthcare professionals are doing all they can but are working in a permanent state of crisis,” he added.

“If the UK government acts now, we can turn this around and ensure our cancer system is fit for purpose in the years to come.

“We need a long-term cancer strategy in England that provides the investment and focus needed so that everybody with a cancer diagnosis gets the timely and quality care they deserve.”

Professor Pat Price, who co-founded the ‘CatchUpWithCancer’ campaign, described the situation as ‘a disaster for cancer patients’ and called for ‘a radical new cancer plan and a clear implementation plan to improve waiting times and cancer survival’.

A separate NHS target aims for 75 per cent of patients with suspected cancer to be diagnosed or have the disease ruled out within 28 days - at Barnsley Hospital, 77 per cent of patients were seen within that timeframe.

Across England, 71 per cent of patients urgently referred were given a conclusive diagnosis, down from 74 per cent the previous month and below the target of 75 per cent.

An NHS spokesperson said: “The NHS is seeing and treating record numbers of people for cancer, with 30 per cent more people being treated last year than in 2015/16 and almost three million people receiving potentially lifesaving cancer checks in the last 12 months, ensuring more people than ever before have been diagnosed at an early stage and cancer survival is at an all-time high.

“It is vital that people come forward if they are concerned about cancer symptoms - getting checked early saves lives.”

A spokesperson for Barnsley Hospital said that like most NHS trusts across the country, Barnsley is working hard to hit all the standards for cancer.

Whilst there is further work to do, they said the hospital is making ‘significant progress’ in this area.

They added: “We are committed to doing everything we can to see patients as soon as possible.

“In Barnsley, we have increased our diagnostic capacity and focused on streamlining patient journeys within key treatment pathways such as lung and urology cancers.

“Where we have performed well is against the 28-day Faster Diagnosis Standard (FDS) - that is, either diagnosis or ruling out cancer within 28 days of referral.

“Our results here are very positive, achieving 77.6 per cent in January 2024 against the 75 per cent standard.

“Our message to patients remains clear: please attend screening calls, notice any signs and symptoms, and go to your GP if you are concerned.

“All these measures are key in encouraging early identification of cancers.”