Cancer Research UK has said that cancer services in England are at ‘tipping point’ in a recent report into the impact of NHS reforms on cancer services in England over recent years.

The report, commissioned by Cancer Research UK and called “Measuring up? The health of NHS cancer services”, outlines the mounting pressure on cancer services following NHS reforms implemented by the coalition government.

The report has revealed that the time between urgent referral and first treatment has dipped beneath the 62 day target for the first time since 2009/10. It also flags an urgent need for additional funding, particularly in the area of diagnostics.

Cancer Research UK warns that it anticipates a significant rise in demand for services in years to come, and raises concerns over the NHS’ ability to continue providing high-quality cancer services to patients under the strain of spending cuts. Spending on cancer declined from £5.9bn in 2009-10 to £5.7bn in 2012/13, despite a rise in the number of patients. A £30bn funding gap is predicted between 2013/14 and 2020/21 based on current levels of funding.

Rachael Bewers, a clinical negligence solicitor based in Thompsons Solicitors’ Chelmsford office, said: “Funding for cancer treatment in the UK is absolutely fundamental. It ultimately saves the NHS money if cancer is detected early and treated effectively.

“In England, during 2013/14, some 1.4 million patients were referred to their GP for suspected cancer. It is vital that services and support for cancer patients ensure that everything is done to avoid misdiagnosis, delays in diagnosis and ultimately clinical negligence as the risks are so huge. The government needs to urgently recognise the findings of this report as a red flag warning and act on it or the personal and social ramifications rest at their door.”

As a firm, Thompsons strongly believes that the coalition government, in its obsession with implementing spending cuts and pushing though healthcare reforms, has chosen to put short term gain over what is best for the patients and the NHS in the longer term.