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Labour claims more trusts are missing cancer targets

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The number of hospitals failing to meet cancer waiting time targets has trebled in just one year, Labour has warned.

Fresh analysis of a report on the performance of NHS foundation trusts showed a growing number failed to meet the target of treating 85% of patients within 62 days of an urgent GP referral.

The report, by healthcare regulator Monitor, said that “performance against cancer waiting time targets has steadily deteriorated over the past year.”

“Jeremy Hunt should stand up before the Tory conference today and order an immediate halt to these disgraceful cuts to cancer care”

Andy Burnham

It shows that in the first four months of 2013-14, eight trusts failed to meet the target. For the same period in 2014-15 this figure had risen to 27, the report shows.

Meanwhile, Labour also said that spending on cancer services has been cut by £800m in four years.

In response to a Parliamentary question from Labour MP Debbie Abrahams, public health minister Jane Ellison said that estimated real-terms expenditure on cancer services was £5.68bn in 2012-13 – a decrease from £5.91bn in 2009/10.

Labour said the figures show a £790m real terms cut in spending since 2010.

Shadow health secretary Andy Burnham said: “[Health secretary] Jeremy Hunt should stand up before the Tory conference today and order an immediate halt to these disgraceful cuts to cancer care.

Andy Burnham

“On his watch, people are waiting longer for treatment and tests and now we know why,” he said.

“This is why people can’t trust him and David Cameron with the NHS. He should apologise and produce a plan to bring cancer services back up to the national standard,” he added.

A Department of Health spokeswoman said: “Survival rates are improving and we are treating record numbers of NHS patients for cancer. Last year, 450,000 more patients were referred with suspected cancer than in 2009-10, an increase of 51%.

“A recent survey showed 89% of cancer patients rated their care as excellent or very good,” she said.

“We have prioritised cancer, investing three-quarters of a billion pounds over four years and just last month, we announced an extra £160m for the Cancer Drugs Fund and £6m towards a new type of radiotherapy,” she added.

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