STROUD MP David Drew is calling for ‘urgent investment’ in the NHS after claiming that cancer patients in Gloucestershire are waiting longer than the national average for their first treatment.

Mr Drew made the call based on figures released by Cancer Research UK.

He says the figures show that 75 per cent of patients in Gloucestershire receive their first definitive cancer treatment within 62 days of an urgent GP referral.

This, says Mr Drew, is below the England national average of 82 per cent and below the national target of 85 per cent.

“I am concerned that here in Gloucestershire waiting times for a first cancer appointment are longer than the average across England,” he said

“We need a long-term fully-funded plan for the cancer workforce so the NHS can meet the challenge of rising numbers of cancer cases. We need staff to save lives.”

However, the figures are disputed by the Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.

A spokesman for the organisation, said: “That only 75 per cent of patients receive their first cancer treatment within 62 days is factually wrong.

“The latest data as reported to our board (for May 2019) shows that 86.5 per cent of patients were seen for their first appointment within two weeks of being referred by their GP.”

Mr Drew is calling for a new long-term plan to address cancer treatment.

“One in two people will get cancer in their lifetime and we are seeing increasing pressure on cancer services,” he said.

According to Cancer Research, there are around 3,500 cancer cases and 1,600 deaths from the disease each year in Gloucestershire.

The charity says more staff are needed to carry out and interpret diagnostic tests in particular, with more than 1 in 10 NHS diagnostic posts currently unfilled.

It argues that diagnosing cancer earlier – when it is more likely to be treated successfully – is a vital part of ensuring more people survive. The Government has made a commitment to diagnose 75 per cent of cancer cases in England at stage one or stage two by 2028.