City among part of East Anglia where not enough cancer patients are accessing treatment fast enough

It's very important for cancer patients to start treatment quickly in order for them to make a full

It's very important for cancer patients to start treatment quickly in order for them to make a full recovery. Photo credit: Rui Vieira/PA Wire - Credit: PA

Too many cancer patients in Norwich are waiting longer than a national target for treatment, this newspaper can reveal.

Figures published by NHS England show 83.3pc of patients accessed treatment for cancer within 62 days of being referred – against a target of 85pc.

It comes as a national charity highlighted an 'unacceptable' variation in cancer survival rates throughout England.

But health chiefs said they were working closely with hospitals to improve access to treatment.

With cancer rates rising – one in two people will get the illness during their lifetime – rapid access to treatment is vital.

The NHS is therefore tasked with providing treatment to patients no longer than 62 days after referral – in 85pc of cases.

However the rising demand and pressures on hospitals have contributed to a drop in performance nationally.

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This is the case at Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital (N&N), which is only treating around 81pc of patients within the 62 days – according to figures for the first half of the 2016/17 financial year.

However, our analysis shows other regions in East Anglia are treating fewer patients in time – such as west Norfolk and north Norfolk (both achieving 80.9pc).

A spokesman for North Norfolk Clinical Commissioning Group said its leaders met N&N chiefs every fortnight and reviewed all patients with clinical staff to ensure patients were seen in a 'safe and timely manner'.

They said the CCG anticipated hitting the target again by early 2017.

Over in west Norfolk, local NHS chiefs recently agreed an 'action plan' with the Queen Elizabeth Hospital to address the waiting-time issue.

A West Norfolk CCG spokesman said there is 'no magic bullet' to fixing the problem.

Lynda Thomas, chief executive of Macmillan Cancer Support, said people not getting access to the treatment they need could be one of the main reasons why England still sees variations locally in cancer survival rates.

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