A THIRD of people suspected to have cancer in Croydon have to wait at least three months for treatment after seeing a GP.
Only six out of ten patients given an urgent cancer referral were treated within 62 days in June.
The longest-wait at Croydon University Hospital, which is responsible for most but not all of the patients, was 178 days. The patient was a "complicated" case and required substantially more time to diagnose and treat.
Health commissioners described the figures as a "considerable concern" and have urged the hospital to do more to reduce waiting times.
Croydon Health Services (CHS), the trust which runs the hospital, has hired an additional consultant to help it meet the target of 85 per cent of patients treated within 62 days.
South-west London's three main health trusts - Croydon, King's College and St George's hospitals - are all missing the 62-day recommendation.
Figures released by CHS this week show that, in May and June respectively, 69 per cent and 65 per cent of patients were treated within the 62-day period. The hospital is meeting other cancer targets.
Dr Sanjay Gupta, clinical lead for cancer at the trust, said an aging population was placing increased strain on health services.
"With more Londoners living longer every year, there is an increasing demand for our services and we are working hard to provide consistently good cancer care in Croydon," he said.
The hospital has hired an additional consultant urologist, who will start work in October, by which point it says it will be meeting the 85 per cent target.
Dr Gupta said: "We are recruiting a number of support positions within the cancer service to support the clinical team in scheduling their work to increase the efficiency of the department.
"We are also recruiting a new consultant to the urology team to increase the number of specialist biopsies to detect the early signs of prostate cancer.
"We are determined to deliver a marked improvement to our overall 62-day wait performance."
Croydon Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) raised concerns about cancer waiting times at a public board meeting on Tuesday.
Its figures differed from the hospital's, because some people in Croydon are referred to hospitals other than CHS. It found just 61.7 per cent of Croydon patients were treated by the 62-day target in May and 60 per cent in June.
May's data relates to 18 breaches from a total of 47 "pathways", a CCG report said, six of which were at CHS, two shared between CHS and St George's and ten shared between CHS and Royal Marsden.
The GP-led group has raised concerns about cancer waiting times directly with John Goulston, chief executive of CHS.
It has also issued a "contract query notice" to formally question the trust's performance.
A spokesman for the CCG said: "Croydon has a good record overall in delivering against national cancer targets however performance against this particular measure is clearly of considerable concern.
"We will continue to work with Croydon Health Services NHS Trust to ensure improvement."