The proportion of cancer patients starting treatment within two months at the Princess Alexandra Hospital fell to a record low in February, figures reveal.

As NHS performance against the two-month target also reached its lowest level nationally, Macmillan Cancer Support said the latest statistics reveal the enduring impact of the coronavirus pandemic on cancer services.

NHS data shows that at The Princess Alexandra Hospital NHS Trust, just 48.6 per cent of cancer patients started treatment within 62 days of an urgent GP referral in February.

That was down from 65.4 per cent in January, and the lowest rate since records began in 2009.

It means 27 patients had waited longer than two months in February, and the trust fell far below the 85 per cent target introduced over a decade ago.

A year earlier, shortly before the coronavirus pandemic hit, 76.7 per cent of patients were being seen within the target time.

Across England, just 69.7 per cent of patients received cancer treatment within two months of an urgent referral in February – the worst performance on record.

It means the NHS target has now not been met for nearly three years.

And while there were slightly more referrals for urgent cancer investigations in February compared to the previous month, Macmillan said the number of people starting treatment "remains lower than it would expect".

Sara Bainbridge, the charity's head of policy, said: “This data further illustrates the catastrophic impact of Covid-19 on cancer diagnosis and treatment.

"It’s vital that cancer services continue to be prioritised and that those with cancer are not forgotten.

"To address the extensive challenges that lie ahead, the NHS urgently needs a long-term, fully funded plan for its workforce, ensuring there are more dedicated staff who are able to provide the best care for cancer patients, now and in the future."

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