Cancer Focus NI extremely disappointed in long cancer waiting times

Leading local charity Cancer Focus Northern Ireland has responded to the Department of Health’s recent quarterly cancer waiting times (April – June 2021).  

cancer waiting timesRichard Spratt, CEO of Cancer Focus NI has said, “We are extremely disappointed to see that, yet again, large numbers of local cancer patients have not been seen within the Department’s own target dates. This has been a consistent failure ever since these targets were set. 

“These statistics are not just numbers; they represent real people. And when patients are waiting so long for a diagnostic test or treatment, the impact on them is devastating on top of all the other stresses associated with Covid-19.  We see and hear this daily in our work supporting local patients and their families throughout their cancer journey, and our hearts go out to them. 

“As shown in the recent Cancer Registry Annual Report for 2019, even pre-Covid the incidences and mortality from cancer were increasing, a trend exacerbated by an ageing population and health inequalities.  

“We fear that waiting times will continue to increase for many local people and continue to fall short of the mark given that we expect a cohort of people with a late diagnosis post-pandemic.” 

Cancer Focus NI has campaigned for 10 years for a new Cancer Strategy for Northern Ireland to improve prevention, early diagnosis, cancer waiting times and survival. The document is now finally out for public consultation. 

Richard Spratt continued: “Cancer Focus NI strongly encourages the general public, our colleagues across the health service and patients to input their views to help ensure the new Cancer Strategy will be comprehensive, fully resourced and addresses the needs of local people.   

“But in the present time and immediate future, we need to see improvements under the Cancer Reset Plan. The significant capacity and workforce challenges must be addressed now. We’ve presented these concerns to our political leaders for years via our establishment and facilitation of the All Party Group on Cancer. Local people cannot and should not wait anymore.” 

Cancer Focus NI has continued to support patients throughout the pandemic via online therapeutic cancer support. If you have any concerns about your health, speak to your GP as soon as possible.  

Visit www.cancerfocusni.org/symptoms for more information on common signs and symptoms of cancer. For information on the charity’s support services visit www.cancerfocusni.org/support

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