Cancer specialists are warning of increased waiting times for chemotherapy as treatment units are stretched to capacity.
Experts fear they may soon have to breach government guidelines on how long a patient should wait to start treatment. Dr Elaine Lennan, a consultant chemotherapy nurse, said: “People are surviving longer so can have more treatment, there are lots of new therapies out there. There has been this exponential rise in chemotherapy use and there’s a definite feeling among the professional bodies that chemotherapy units are struggling with demand. They can’t keep pace. Many have considered chemotherapy units to have elastic walls but they are now stretched to the limit now. More often than not, it’s about capacity: we don’t have the chair space.”
Hospitals are supposed to ensure that patients receive their first cancer treatment within 31 days of being diagnosed, or within 62 days of a consultant’s decision to prioritise them.