Penningtons Manches backs calls for urgent action to tackle delays in diagnosis

Posted: 17/06/2014


NHS England, the body tasked with improving health outcomes for people in England, has recently published the latest worrying statistics on waiting times for diagnostic tests and procedures. These reveal that, In April 2014, almost 17,000 patients had been waiting more than six weeks for a scan or investigation to diagnose their condition. The figure has doubled in a year.

There has been a significant increase in demand for investigations and tests in recent years with greater awareness of the early signs and symptoms and of the benefits of early diagnosis and treatment in improving long-term prognosis for many conditions. It is very well publicised that patients with cancer do far better if the disease is spotted and treated early than if it is detected only in later stages.

Long waiting times for diagnostic tests are also contrary to the NHS's own constitution, which provides that nobody should have to wait more than six weeks. These latest data will concern many who are waiting for tests for insidious diseases and increasing their anxiety at an already stressful time.

Leading charities such as Macmillan Cancer Support are now calling for hospital trusts and politicians to act to reverse the increase in waiting times for these vital tests. This comes on the back of recent reports that, once diagnosed, many patients are also having to wait longer for treatment.

Andrew Clayton of Penningtons Manches' clinical negligence team backs these calls and explains: "We know from long experience that our clients who suffer long delays in diagnosis of diseases like cancer face a worse future than those who are treated early. There have been significant advances in recent years in recognising the early signs and symptoms of diseases like cancer. Those advances risk being undermined if the system for diagnostic testing does not keep pace with the demands placed on it. It is not surprising that, as a result, more and more diagnostic tests are being requested. We need investment to keep up with that demand.

"Combined delays in diagnosis and treatment will increase the number of patients with poor outcome, despite the advances of recent years. The costs to the NHS, as well as the social and economic costs of managing the later stages of diseases, are likely to outweigh the costs of improving accessibility to early diagnostic tests. Failing to reverse these increased waiting times would be short-sighted and we would urge immediate review and investment to combat these delays."


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Penningtons Manches Cooper LLP

Penningtons Manches Cooper LLP is a limited liability partnership registered in England and Wales with registered number OC311575 and is authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority.

Penningtons Manches Cooper LLP