CANCER patients hit by NHS delays or medical diagnosis errors have been paid out nearly £900,000 over the past five years.

Since 2019, the Mid and South Essex NHS Trust, which manages Southend, Basildon, and Broomfield hospitals, settled 19 claims from patients whose treatment was delayed or conditions misdiagnosed with payouts totalling £887,422.

It comes as figures show just 47 per cent of cancer patients urgently referred to the Mid and South Essex NHS Trust in January began treatment within two months of their referral – below the 85 per cent NHS guideline.

Diane Sarkar, chief nursing, and quality officer at Mid and South Essex NHS Trust, stressed misdiagnosis was rare at the trust.

She said: “We recognise that delays or misdiagnosis in cancer is upsetting for anyone affected.

“But incidents of this nature are rare compared to the thousands of people we treat every year for cancer across mid and south Essex. We work hard to reduce delays, improve accuracy of diagnosis and ensure we have the latest technology to support that diagnosis.”

The figures surrounding settlements have been revealed after an investigation launched by company Medical Negligence Assist, which found 40 claims of cancer diagnosis have been lodged since 2019.

Across the country, the NHS has paid out £128million in cancer misdiagnosis and delayed diagnosis claims over the past five years.

England’s Health Ombudsman recently warned that cancer patients could be put at risk, calling for immediate Government action after research into cancer complaints frequently pointed to misdiagnosis and treatment delays.

James Courtenay, Southend Council cabinet member and candidate for Chalkwell ward at the election on May 2, hoped the NHS had learned from the errors.

He said: “Whilst it is right that the Trust has compensated where there have been errors, and I feel for each and every patient; I hope that each error has been used as a learning opportunity to ensure that future errors are minimised, and cancers are caught and correctly diagnosed as early as possible as it is well known that the earlier most cancers are caught, the better the prognosis is.”

According to NHS guidelines 85 per cent of cancer patients with an urgent referral should start treatment within 62 days.

Despite data showing 47 per cent of cancer patients at Mid and South Essex Trust starting treatment following a referral in January, which is below the Government guidelines, it is an improvement on 38 per cent in January last year.