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11/01/2018

Serious Concerns Raised As NI Cancer Targets Missed

Serious concerns have been raised after new figures revealed that cancer targets in Northern Ireland have been missed again.

In September 2017, 228 out of 368 patients were first treated within 62 days following an urgent GP referral, according to data from the Department of Health.

Sinn Féin spokesperson for health Pat Sheehan said the situation is "unacceptable".

He said: "Although there have been significant improvements in cancer treatment in recent years it is really concerning that waiting time targets are being missed.

"Advances in cancer care need to be built upon, ensuring cancer sufferers receive the better health outcomes they deserve.

"Unfortunately Tory/DUP Austerity has seriously undermined our capacity to deliver public services.

"Yet despite increasing pressures on cancer services HSC staff continue to deliver a high standard of care in what are often challenging circumstances.
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"Workforce capacity must be provided to support staff in meeting this increased demand for cancer treatments going forward and this must be a consideration in a comprehensive workforce strategy.

"The development of a Cancer Strategy needs to be progressed to address the challenges facing cancer services now and into the future."

Alliance Health Spokesperson Paula Bradshaw said: "What we are continuing to see is people being left in a very difficult situation without access to the right treatment at the right time. Without focusing on proper resourcing and transformation of services, alongside a comprehensive cancer strategy, we will not see this changed. This must be an absolute priority for every elected representative.

"We need to be clear that these statistics are not just on a page. They are evidence of the very real human cost of administrative and political failure.

"It is time those charged with the responsibility of government stopped playing games and got on with the job they are tasked to do. They may usefully start with showing respect for cancer patients, and for the needs of the Health Service in general."

(CD/LM)

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