‘Further decline’ in cancer care waiting times

Roy Beggs MLA.
Roy Beggs MLA.

Ulster Unionist health spokesperson Roy Beggs MLA has urged the Secretary of State to intervene on the “deteriorating situation” in the local health service after official performance times showed a further decline in key cancer targets.

In a statement, Mr. Beggs said “Cancer is a cruel disease that thrives during any avoidable delay in treatment. That is why it is so important that patients are seen, diagnosed and receive treatment on time.

“Yet once again, there has been a further fall in the number of local patients who are receiving treatment on time.

“Last November, I highlighted the crisis in breast cancer services in the Northern Trust, and now we have confirmation that for the last recorded period that only 61.8 per cent of patients in Northern Ireland commenced their first treatment within 62 days following an urgent referral for suspect cancer.

“This is a further decline from the position 12 months ago. It’s outrageous and totally unfair to force so many people to wait for so long.

“In the Northern Trust, the percentage of cancer patients commencing first treatment within 62 days has dropped from 69.4 per cent in September 2017 to 55.8% September 2018.

“I have written to the chief executive of the Northern Trust to express my concern and find out what action is being taken to address this alarming drop off.

“Targets are set for cancer treatment because there is very sound medical evidence that the longer a patient has to wait for treatment, the greater the risk that they may ultimately come to harm. That’s what makes these missed targets so serious and inexcusable.”