Response to NHS performance stats

Sarah Scobie responds to the latest NHS performance data.

Press release

Published: 09/05/2024

Responding to the latest NHS performance statistics, Nuffield Trust Acting Director of Research Sarah Scobie said:

“It is good to see considerable progress this month against both the 28-day and 62-day cancer urgent referral targets. In March, a smaller proportion of people, 31%, missed the 62-day target to start cancer treatment than in any month for almost two years. Faster diagnosis and treatment can make a huge difference to survival rates, so it is critical this progress is sustained, but it is too early to know this for certain. 

“The NHS has struggled to meet its targets on cancer performance for a long time, well before the impact of the pandemic and a backlog of demand for cancer services increased waiting times even further. Despite improvement in the latest data, the 62-day waits are still way off the 15% target, and still poorer than pre-pandemic performance. Overall, this target has only been met once in the last decade, so we have a long way to go to get back on track. 

“The NHS has set an ambitious goal to dramatically increase early detection of cancer, but performance in this area has stubbornly stalled in recent years and our recent analysis illustrated that the risks of delayed diagnosis aren’t felt equally by all. 

“Meanwhile, progress on the waiting list for routine treatments and operations appears to have stagnated. While the NHS has made some progress getting those who have waited longest treated, it hasn’t been able to bring overall numbers down. The high numbers of patients waiting for care and the progress to get people seen faster will remain under intense scrutiny leading up to a general election and politicians should refrain from making unrealistic and bold commitments on this.”

Notes to editors