The NHS in England has missed some of its targets for treating cancer patients throughout the whole of 2014, according to latest figures.

Official targets state that at least 85% of patients should start cancer treatment within 62 days of being referred by their GP, but in the last quarter of 2014, only 83.8% of patients were treated within the specified target time. This means that NHS England has failed to meet the 85% target for the fourth consecutive quarter of 2014.

However, some targets are being met, including the ‘two week wait’ target for getting 93% of patients to see a specialist within a fortnight of a GP referral.

Labour’s shadow health secretary, Andy Burnham, commented: "In the last year, thousands of cancer patients have waited too long for treatment to start and, in some cases, their chances of survival have been harmed.

"When it comes to cancer, speed is everything. Labour is committed to cancer tests and results within one week to help end this scandal."

Clinical negligence solicitor at Thompsons Solicitors, Jessica Wright said: “Any delay in diagnosis or treatment of cancer can prove detrimental to a patient’s prognosis, so these figures are highly concerning. They are also a reflection of the desperate situation our NHS finds itself in as a result of government cut backs. Indeed, it was only a month ago that the Department for Health announced that 25 different cancer treatments will no longer be available on the NHS.

“The current government’s approach to the NHS is not only having a detrimental effect on patients’ treatment, but is also putting NHS staff under mounting pressure as they try to balance increases in demand against funding and service cuts. This cannot continue and the government needs to tackle cancer waiting times as a matter of urgency.”