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Movember ‘increases cancer waiting time breaches’

Cancer awareness campaigns such as the annual ‘Movember’ event are one of the main causes of an increase in the number of hospitals breaching cancer waiting times, the foundation trust regulator has said.

In its performance report for the nine months to the end of December 2013, Monitor found that 18 trusts breached performance against the 62 day wait from GP referral target in the second quarter of 2013. This was an increase from 12 in the first quarter and from just four in the same period of 2012.

The report concluded that campaigns including Movember – an event which involves encouraging men to be financially sponsored and grow moustaches during the month of November to raise awareness of men’s health issues, such as prostate cancer – could be one of the reason for the increased level of referrals from GPs to hospital for suspected cancers.

Monitor said: ‘Performance against the “62 day wait from GP referral” target has reached its lowest level in two years, and we are monitoring this deterioration closely. Eighteen trusts breached this performance standard this quarter, an increase from 12 last quarter and compared to just four this time last year.’

‘Reasons given for the breaches vary, but an increased level of referrals is a possible common factor, which may be due to recent awareness campaigns including Movember.’