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Earlier this month a BBC News report revealed that NHS cancer wait times in England were the worst on record during 2023. The NHS’s battle to restore services after the COVID-19 pandemic and unprecedented industrial action has been well-documented. Added to this, the number of people treated for cancer by the NHS has almost doubled since waiting list records began. In 2023, this meant that more than a third of NHS patients missed out on timely cancer treatment, but could at-home chemotherapy services prove to be part of the solution?

Records for NHS cancer wait times began in 2010 when the 62-day treatment target was introduced. Since then, the number of people receiving NHS cancer treatment has increased dramatically and waiting times have also grown yearly. In 2023, over 100,000 patients waited more than 62 days from diagnosis to beginning their treatment.

As the NHS continues to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, recent industrial action and a staffing crisis, it’s essential that decision-makers consider all the options to increase capacity and speed up access to vital treatment. At-home cancer treatment could be one such solution.

How could at-home cancer treatment help reduce waiting times?

Around half the UK’s population will be diagnosed with cancer at some point in their lifetime [1] and roughly a third of these people will receive chemotherapy to treat their cancer.

Chemotherapy is most commonly delivered in a hospital or clinic, but it’s also possible to receive treatment at home through specialist service providers, such as Sciensus. Every year we support around 4,000 cancer patients through dedicated services, including chemotherapy and biologics at home.

“We work with more than 300 consultant oncologists in the UK and treat over 100 different types of cancer in the comfort of patients’ own homes,” said Jonathan Ashbridge, Chief Clinical Officer.

“After a patient is referred to us by their consultant, we aim to begin treatment within 7 days. Around 60% of the patients we support are fortunate to have private medical insurance, but we also work with 47 NHS trusts, enabling them to offer their patients a range of cancer treatment options and keep wait times down. In partnership with consultants across the country, we’re actively working to improve awareness, understanding and confidence in at-home chemotherapy to help make it available to more patients.”

How do patients feel about at-home cancer treatment?

Patient research commissioned by Sciensus last year showed that at-home chemotherapy is a well-supported concept by those who have experienced it. The patients interviewed described a positive experience and gave powerful insight into the benefits of having treatment in their home environment. Over and above faster access to treatment, patients also said that at-home treatment:

  • Allowed them to keep living their lives
  • Could be personalised to suit their preferences
  • Brought feelings of resilience and hope
  • Enabled them to develop supportive and practical relationships with their caregivers.

To find out more about our specialist cancer care services, contact