NHS cancer treatment waiting times continue to miss targets

NHS cancer treatment waiting time targets continue to be missed.
Andrew Madden

CALLS for a new cancer strategy intensified yesterday with new figures showing waiting times for treatment are still missing targets.

The latest statistics from the Department of Health show that from April to June this year, only 69.9 per cent of patients in Northern Ireland who were urgently referred by the GP for treatment for suspected cancer, were seen within 62 days.

The official target for these referrals is 95 per cent.

This target has never been met by any health trust in Northern Ireland since records were first compiled six years ago.

Statistics from June 2015, compared to the same period this year, show that the number of people given their first cancer treatment following diagnosis fell from 96.6 to 93 per cent.

There was also a dramatic decrease in the number of people being treated within the first 14 days of an urgent referral for breast cancer.

In June 2015 the rate stood at 81.4 per cent compared to 63.9 per cent this year.

The latest figures come following the recent publication of a report by Cancer Research UK which painted a bleak picture of how cancer care is managed.

Margaret Carr, Cancer Research UK’s Northern Ireland public affairs manager, said it was time for a new plan to be put in place.

"With the number of people being diagnosed with cancer on the increase, the way services are currently organised is not sustainable," she said.

"This is why a new cancer plan that sets out a long term vision and identifies priorities and where to target resources, is needed.

"Now is the time to set out new ambitions...along with details of how these goals will be achieved."

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