McGrath Welcomes Move To Support Young Cancer Patients

Health Minister pledges to prioritise young cancer patients after SDLP intervention

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Health Minister pledges to prioritise young cancer patients after SDLP intervention 

SDLP Health Spokesperson Colin McGrath has welcomed confirmation from Health Minister Robin Swann that young people with a red flag diagnosis for cancer will be prioritised for care.

It comes after a review of child health waiting lists by the Northern Ireland Commissioner for Children and Young People (NICCY) found 24 children with confirmed or suspected cancer had to wait over a year for a first appointment.

South Down MLA Colin McGrath.

Speaking in the Assembly, Mr McGrath asked the Health Minister to guarantee if there are currently children with a red flag case of suspected cancer that they will see a specialist in the next 24-48 hours. 

The Health Minister confirmed he had instructed all health trusts to establish the current situation and ensure no children are currently waiting. 

South Down MLA Mr McGrath said: “It is unimaginable to think that there could be scores of children across the North with suspected cancer currently waiting to see a specialist.

“That the situation was ever allowed to reach this stage is beyond belief and really shows once and for all the extremely dire situation our health service is currently in, especially with regards to waiting lists.

“I welcome the Health Minister’s assurance that he has contacted all of our health trusts to ensure there are no children currently waiting for treatment but it’s extremely regrettable we ever ended up in this situation in the first place. NICCY’s report showed 24 children across the North had been forced to wait over a year for treatment, that’s a heartbreaking situation for anyone to be put into and I can only imagine the strain these families were under.

“There rarely seems to be a week that goes by without some harrowing revelation about the state of our health service. Our waiting lists only seem to get longer and our system was broken long before the coronavirus pandemic hit.

“People are sick of listening to excuses, we need to start coming up with solutions to fix these problems and that begins with a wide-scale reform of the health service so that we can provide people of all ages with the healthcare they need, when they need it,” added Colin McGrath.