The number of cancer patients admitted to hospitals as emergency cases in Thurrock hit a record high last summer, figures show.

Macmillan Cancer Support said the rising number of cancer patients across England arriving at hospitals via A&E or other urgent routes showed the “devastating” effect of the Covid-19 pandemic on cancer care.

Public Health England data shows 44 people with newly identified tumours were admitted to hospital inpatient wards as an emergency in the NHS Thurrock CCG area in the three months to September.

That was up from 35 between July and September 2019, and the highest number for the period since comparable records began in 2010.

It was also an increase from 32 between April and June.

Patients are commonly admitted as emergency cases via A&E, or after an emergency referral by their GP.

People who have their cancer diagnosed this way are significantly less likely to survive as it is often more advanced.

The figures count all invasive forms of the disease except non-melanoma skin cancer.

Including all referral types, there were 143 first inpatient admissions for cancer in the three months to September – down from 205 during the same period in 2019.

It means around 31% of admissions were listed as emergencies, compared to 17% a year earlier.

Sara Bainbridge, head of policy at Macmillan, said: “So far the Government has failed to show how it will deliver the staffing and resources needed to clear the backlog of people waiting for a diagnosis and treatment. They must urgently put this right so that people living with cancer get the care they need and do not become forgotten amid this pandemic.”

A Department for Health spokeswoman said: “Despite confronting enormous pressure, the NHS has continued to treat cancer patients as a priority, with 1.86 million urgent referrals and over 477,000 people receiving cancer treatment between March 2020 and January 2021.

“We continue to urge people to come forward to their GP if they have symptoms and as part of our additional investment in the NHS, an extra £1 billion is being used to boost diagnosis and treatment across all areas of elective care in the year ahead.”