UK & World News
NHS Hospitals Missing Cancer Targets Quadruples
The number of hospitals missing cancer targets has quadrupled in a year, according to a new report.
The Government target is for 85% of patients with suspected cancer to start treatment within 62 days of being urgently referred by their GP.
A study by health watchdog Monitor, which regulates England's 147 foundation trusts, found 18 NHS trusts breached the target between October and December 2013.
This compares to just four in the same period the previous year.
Consultant cover and an increase in referrals by GPs, as well as late referrals, were some of the reasons given for missing the target.
However, trusts did perform well against a target to see the most urgent cases within two weeks.
The study also found 39 trusts are now in deficit, almost double the 21 in the same period last year.
The combined financial hole of these trusts is £180m - higher than the £168m anticipated, with 60% of the deficit concentrated in five organisations.
Jason Dorsett, financial reporting director at Monitor, said: "All trusts need to up their game in delivering efficiency savings this year in order to maintain and improve the quality of care for patients, and ensure the sustainability of services."
Shadow health secretary Andy Burnham said: "After a decade of improvements in cancer waiting times, progress has been derailed by David Cameron's NHS reorganisation.
"We warned that focus would be lost and that is exactly what has happened."
He added: "Patients with a life-threatening illness should not face these unnecessary delays."
:: Watch Sky News live on television, on Sky channel 501, Virgin Media channel 602, Freeview channel 82 and Freesat channel 202.