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Charity hits out at hospital waiting times

Margaret Carr, Cancer Research UK's public affair manager, said the figures were "hugely worrying"
Andrew Madden

A CHARITY has hit out at "hugely worrying" waiting times for diagnostic tests in the north, as health trusts continue to miss targets.

Figures from the department of health for the three-month period to September 30, show that 39.9 per cent (40,686) of patients were waiting longer that nine weeks for a diagnostic test.

The target is no more than 25 per cent of patients.

This is an increase of more than five per cent compared to June’s figure. Nearly 10 per cent of patients even had to wait more than 26 weeks for a diagnostic test, which can be used to detected diseases such as cancer.

Other key statistics show that waiting time targets for first outpatient appointments and inpatient and day case admission were also missed.

More than two-thirds of patients were waiting more than nine weeks for their first consultant-led outpatient appointment.

Margaret Carr, Cancer Research UK’s public affairs manager, said the issue needs urgent attention.

"These tests are important because, if a doctor suspects a patient has cancer, the sooner the disease is diagnosed, the more successful treatment is likely to be," she said.

"The fact so many patients are waiting longer than six weeks for such a vital test is hugely worrying and simply not good enough.

"This is why Northern Ireland desperately needs a new cancer plan that sets out a long term vision and identifies priorities and where to target resources. Swift action is needed as patients are waiting too long for potentially life-saving cancer treatments."

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