Ulster Unionist Health Spokesperson, Jo-Anne Dobson MLA, has said the latest publication of cancer waiting times, which confirm that crucial cancer targets are still being widely missed, lays bare the human tragedy that patients across Northern Ireland are still avoidably coming to harm.
Jo-Anne Dobson said:
“The latest publication of waiting times confirms that the local situation regarding delays in cancer services remains wholly inexcusable. It is simply not good enough that for instance, so many women who are red flagged for suspected breast cancer are not being seen within the strict 14-day timeframe.
“Cancer, no matter where in the body, is a cruel and vicious disease that strikes fear, as well as heartbreak, into patients and families across Northern Ireland. It is a disease that thrives when undetected and so these delays in the local system confirm that patients are inevitably coming to harm.
“Most shocking however is the revelation that of the 95 patients who were forced to wait longer than 62 days for treatment in March 2016, 35 were diagnosed with urological cancer and a further 16 were diagnosed with lower gastrointestinal cancer. An earlier diagnosis may well have improved the long-term prognosis for some of these patients.
“The scale of the disease, and the even greater prominence it is going to display over the years to come means that cancer prevention, early detection and timely treatment must remain a top priority within the health agenda for Northern Ireland. Unfortunately, by not having enough specialist cancer nurses and not replacing cancer consultants when they retire, efforts to get to grips with the disease locally are being repeatedly undermined and until they are permanently resolved patients here are still going to be exposed to harm.”