Two reports released by Cancer Research UK show that key waiting time targets are being missed as a result of underfunding and understaffing for NHS cancer services.

The release of the reports comes as Cancer Research UK calls on Chancellor George Osborne to increase spending on cancer diagnostic services as part of its campaign to ensure that more cancers are diagnosed at an early stage in the UK.

Focusing on endoscopy and imaging tests, the reports highlight that there is already mounting pressure on services, with demands for these types of diagnostics tests set to continue to grow.

The University of Birmingham produced a report into endoscopy and predicts that there will be a 44 percent rise in the number of people requiring endoscopies between now and 2020 due to an ageing and growing population.

The second report, compiled by 2020 Delivery, states that under-staffing and outdated equipment pose major challenges for NHS imaging services, which include CT scans, MRI and ultrasounds. The NHS Supply has previously stated that an investment of £215m is required to replace old equipment, with additional funds needed to meet increases in demands for the tests in the coming years.

In short, the two reports found that:
• There is a shortage of people working in diagnostic services
• Patients are waiting too long for tests and waiting times for cancer testing are getting worse
• There is a shortage of imaging equipment and much of it requires replacing

Roberta Pyle, a senior clinical negligence solicitor at Thompsons Solicitors’ Newcastle office, said: “We have been hearing about the challenges that the NHS is facing as a result of a lack of funding for months. Investment is clearly desperately needed to ease pressure on staff and services, and ensure that patients are getting the best possible treatment.

“Early diagnosis of cancer is absolutely vital and significantly improves a patient’s prognosis. Patients need to feel reassured that they are having the best service and for that to happen the government needs to take note of Cancer Research’s concerns. If this does not happen then I fear that, as demand for services increases, UK cancer services will start to lag far behind our counterparts worldwide.”