31/03/2011

NI Misses Cancer Treatment Targets

Northern Ireland's hospitals have failed to meet target times for the treatment of patients referred for suspected cancer, a new report by the Department of Health revealed.

Its guidelines say 95% of patients should begin their treatment within 62 days. Last December however, the figure stood at 81%, which was the third monthly fall in a row.

Last October, of the 829 patients that were first seen by a breast cancer specialist following an urgent referral for suspected breast cancer, 777 (93.7%) received their assessment within two weeks of referral.

In November 851 (99.0%) of the 860 patients referred were seen within 14 days.

Waiting times for treatment following an urgent GP referral for suspected cancer should be within 62 days.

Last November, this percentage decreased to 82.7% (201 out of 243 patients treated within 62 days).
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This percentage then dropped slightly to 81.4% in December 2010, with 180 out of 221 patients treated within 62 days.

Breast cancer targets are also being missed.

The target waiting time for a first assessment with a breast cancer specialist should be within 14 days.

These announcements come after the controversial decision to postpone a radiotherapy unit at Altnagelvin Hospital in Londonderry.

The decision means that people in Co Londonderry and Co Donegal have to make the 200-mile round trip to the cancer centre in Belfast.

Earlier this year, the Belfast Trust recalled well over 100 people after a senior consultant was removed from his post at Belfast's Royal School of Dentistry.

A review of Professor Philip Lamey's work led to a hearing of the General Dental Council in London over fears that cases of oral cancer could have been missed.

See: Inquiry Ordered As MLAs Debate Dentist

(JG/GK)

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