McGrath concerned at cancer patients‘ waiting times
SDLP Health Spokesperson Colin McGrath has said that cancer patients in the North have been continually failed throughout the Covid-19 pandemic.
He was commenting after the latest cancer waiting time figures from the Department of Health showed all targets had been missed.
The South Down MLA said: “That all targets for the North’s cancer waiting times have been missed is deeply regrettable. I can only imagine the anxiety this causes for patients and their families as they wait for potentially life-saving treatment.
“Many people have suffered as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic and we cannot forget the impact on those who are waiting for important healthcare.
“Statistics show that cancer rates are continuing to increase in the North, with referrals for suspected breast cancer increasing by over 500 in just one year.
“Despite the urgent need to diagnose and treat breast cancer just over 75% of patients were seen within the 14-day target. This simply isn’t good enough.
“We are also still yet to receive clarity on whether the Department will begin collating figures of those suffering from secondary breast cancer, despite raising the issue with Health Minister Robin Swann.
“Our struggling health system cannot continue to fail patients with cancer and those in need of other important medical treatments. While our health staff have worked tirelessly to support patients throughout the pandemic, the problems in our health service were clear before any of us ever heard of Covid-19.
“Years of mismanagement and neglect have led our health service to this position and it’s the patients who are suffering.
“I find it insulting and outrageous that while ordinary people are trying to get access to life saving treatments, the establishment parties have been threatening to collapse the political institutions and walk away from government. Their self-serving spats wont help anyone on a waiting list, they’ll only make things much worse. These are the people on those lists we should be focused on helping right now.”
Publication of Northern Ireland Cancer Waiting Times Statistics Release (July – September 2021)
The Department of Health today published the Northern Ireland Cancer Waiting Times Statistics Release for July, August and September 2021.
The release gives details of the waiting times for patients accessing cancer services at hospitals during July, August and September 2021.
Key facts and figures are listed below:
Waiting times for first treatment following an urgent GP referral for suspect cancer (62 day target)
- In September 2021, 431 patients commenced their first treatment for cancer following an urgent referral for suspect cancer. Of these, 42.5% (183 patients) started treatment within 62 days, compared with 43.9% (156 of the 355 patients) in August, 52.4% (193 of the 368 patients) in July and 60.3% (222 of the 368 patients) in September 2020.
Waiting times for first definitive treatment following a decision to treat (31 day target)
- During September 2021, 886 patients commenced their first treatment for cancer following a decision to treat being taken. Of these, 88.0% (780) started treatment within 31 days, compared with 90.9% (722 of the 794 patients) in August, 91.4% (750 of the 821 patients) in July and 95.1% (832 of the 875 patients) in September 2020.
Patients first seen following an urgent referral for suspect breast cancer (14 day target)
- During September 2021, 1,337 patients were seen by a breast cancer specialist for a first assessment following an urgent referral for suspect breast cancer. Of these, 75.5% (1,010) were seen within 14 days, compared with 70.2% (685 of the 976 patients) in August, 77.2% (858 of the 1,112 patients) in July and 81.9% (1,099 of the 1,342 patients) in September 2020.
Referrals for suspect breast cancer
- In September 2021, 2,583 new referrals for suspect breast cancer were received; this compares to 1,827 in August, 1,748 in July and 2,042 in September 2020. Referrals for suspect breast cancer can be for advice, assessment or both.
- Of those new referrals for suspect breast cancer in September 2021, 1,699 (65.8%) were classified as urgent.