SOUTHEND and Basildon hospitals have fallen below the NHS 62-day target for cancer patients to receive treatment, new data shows.

According to NHS figures, the two hospitals fell heavily below the national target of 85per cent for cancer patients to receive treatment in under 62 days.

In September, 70per cent of cancer patients at Basildon Hospital were receiving treatment within nine weeks, while at Southend, 63.3per cent of cancer patients were receiving treatment in the same timescale.

Nationwide, 76per cent of cancer patients receive treatment within 62 days.

Basildon and Southend hospitals also missed the NHS target for A&E patients to be seen within four hours.

In September, 2018, 96.8per cent of A&E patients were seen within four hours at Basildon.

In October this year, the position has worsened to 89.8per cent seen within four hours.

At Southend the figures dropped from 90.6per cent to 81.6per cent in the same time period.

Clare Burns, director of operations in elective care at Southend Hospital addressed the cancer waiting times.

She said: “We are working to reduce current waiting times for cancer care, but recognise that there is more to be done.

“We are already making progress with reducing cancer waiting times, with a reduction in the number of patients with very long waiting times.

Fiona Ryan, director of operations for planned care at Basildon Hospital, added: “Improving our delivery of cancer care is an area of daily focus for us and we are working tirelessly to provide a better service to patients.

“We have agreed an improvement plan to deliver the 62-day national target, working closely with our partner hospitals, who play a vital part in the delivery of cancer care for our patients across Mid and South Essex.”

Ian Gilbert, leader of Southend Council, told the Echo the figures were very worrying.

He said: “It’s a sign that the NHS continues to be under pressure.

“We need more investment in our area, rather than the downgrades that we are being threatened with.”

Cancer survivor Ashley Dalton, Labour’s parliamentary candidate for Rochford and Southend East, said: “The wait from cancer diagnosis to the start of treatment is an incredibly distressing time for patients and their families.

“As a former patient myself, I know that the wait can be agonising. Southend Hospital has been struggling to meet this target since January 2015.”

l The full list of candidates for for Rochford and Southend East are Ashley Dalton (Lab), James Duddridge (Con), Navin Kumar (Ind), Keith Miller (Lib Dem) and Jason Pilley (Psychedelic Future Party).