Half Of NI Cancer Patients Seen Within Target Time

Just over half of local patients started urgent cancer treatment within the target waiting time in June, new official figures have revealed.

Some 55.4% of patients attended hospital for their first treatment following an urgent GP referral for suspected cancer within the recommended waiting time, which currently stands at 62 days.

The figure represents a rise when compared with the 48.9% seen in due time in May, however it is a 15% drop from the 70.8% in June 2018.

The statistics came to light in the Department of Health's waiting times release for April, May and June 2019.

The latest publication is evidence of a further deterioration in breaches of targets and delays, Ulster Unionist MLA Roy Beggs has said.

The party's Health Spokesperson said it's time to prioritise saving lives from cancer over all other political red lines blocking the restoration of local Government.
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"We have by far the worst waiting times in the UK and there is no longer any doubt that delays in treatments are seeing local patients come to real physical and emotional harm," Mr Beggs said.

"Every time the cancer figures are released there is a collective sigh of disbelief right across Northern Ireland, but even that now quickly fades, for as a society we have come to expect nothing else. It's an appalling and deeply tragic situation.

"No issue is more important. It is outrageous that an Irish Language Act is still being given more value ahead of the safety of local patients," the east Antrim MLA concluded.

The publication also highlighted that 80% of patients referred urgently for suspected breast cancer were seen within the 14 day target.

Some 1,861 new referrals were made in June 2019, 69.3% of which were classified as urgent. These appointments can be for advice, assessment or both.


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