Knowsley has one of the lowest rates of early cancer diagnosis in England

Knowsley has one of the lowest early cancer diagnosis rates in England, new figures show, with the area lagging well behind Government targets.

Embargoed to 0001 Saturday January 23 A view showing the new 3T MRI scanner at Sheffield Children's Hospital.
Embargoed to 0001 Saturday January 23 A view showing the new 3T MRI scanner at Sheffield Children's Hospital.

Knowsley has one of the lowest early cancer diagnosis rates in England, new figures show, with the area lagging well behind Government targets.

A panel of experts appointed by MPs has described the Government's commitment to cancer care across England as "inadequate", while former health secretary Jeremy Hunt warned cancer survival could "go into reverse" as a result of missed early diagnoses.

NHS Digital figures show 49.6% of all cancer diagnoses in people living in the NHS Knowsley CCG area were classified as stage one or two in 2019 – the latest available figures.

Most Popular

    This was among the lowest proportions in the country, but up from 48.6% the year prior.

    It means the area is well behind the target for 75% of cancer cases to be diagnosed in the early stages by 2028 – first announced as part of the NHS Long Term Plan in 2018.

    Little progress has been made nationally, with the early diagnosis rates across England also well below the target.

    Advertisement

    Just 55% of cancers were detected at earlier stages nationally in 2019, an increase of just 0.3 percentage points compared to 2013, when records began.

    In Knowsley, 51.9% of cancers were diagnosed at stage one or two that year.

    Mr Hunt, chairman of the Government's health and social care committee, which recently published a report on cancer services nationally, warned early cancer diagnosis is being jeopardised by staff shortages and the "damaging and prolonged impact" of the coronavirus pandemic.

    He said the NHS is not on track to meet the Government's early cancer diagnosis target and that more than 340,000 people will miss out on an early diagnosis between 2019 and 2028 without fixing key issues.

    Earlier this year, Health Secretary Sajid Javid declared a "national war on cancer" and announced a 10-year strategy would be published.

    Separate NHS Digital figures show 72.7% of people in the NHS Knowsley CCG area survived the first year after their cancer diagnosis in 2019.

    Advertisement

    This was up from 72.1% the year prior and 63.1% in 2004, when records began.

    The figures do not include patients with prostate and non-melanoma skin cancer.

    Across England, one-year survival rates steadily rose over 15 years, from 64.4% to 74.6%.

    Minesh Patel, head of policy at Macmillan Cancer Support, said while there has been limited progress on cancer survival rates in recent years, the Government must address severe staff shortages and provide concrete solutions in its 10-Year Cancer Plan.

    An NHS England spokesperson said cancer care is a priority for the organisation and the £3.8 billion plan to recover elective care over the next three years will help catch and treat more cancers at an early stage.

    A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: "We recognise that business as usual on cancer is not enough – that’s why we have redoubled our efforts and are developing a 10-Year Cancer Plan to set out how we will lead the world in cancer care."

    Advertisement

    The DHSC has promised to tackle the Covid-19 backlog, reduce cancer waiting times and invest £8 billion over the next three years, adding to an extra £2 billion investment in 2021.