Ulster Unionist Party Leader, Steve Aiken MLA, has discovered new figures that show during September 2019 of all the patients urgently referred with a suspected cancer, only 49% began their first definitive treatment within 62 days. The official target is 95% should receive treatment within 62 days.
The UUP Leader has also learned that the Board members of the Northern Ireland Health and Social Care Board were informed of the figures during their November meeting in recent days.
Steve Aiken said:
“Cancer is a cruel and vicious disease. It’s one that thrives in any opportunity of a vacuum or delay, and that is what makes the revelation that less than half of cancer patients in September were seen within the standard 62 day target so tragic. The problem is especially bad in the South Eastern Health and Social Care Trust where only 33% of patients started treatment on time.
“These are frightening figures that expose the sheer scale of the human tragedy engulfing our local health service.
“Like so many people across Northern I have lost close family members to the disease, and in 2014 I myself was diagnosed with bowel cancer. I can recall the concern that even the mention of the word brought to my family.
“Whilst I was fortunate to have been diagnosed quite early on – something I will forever be grateful to my wife for pressing me to visit the doctor – unfortunately for far too many cancer patients now they are simply being failed by a system no longer able to cope. Even those that do suspect quite early on that there may be something wrong are having to wait far too long for diagnostic tests and for treatment to begin.
“Earlier this year the Department of Health at last announced that it would be producing a Cancer Strategy for Northern Ireland. Yet it was also clear that the implementation of the new strategy was only for a future Health Minister to decide upon.
“Action needs to be taken and taken now. There is a crisis in our health service and it is a disgrace that the political failure at Stormont is getting in the way of resolving it. That is why the next Westminster Government needs to step in and immediately take back responsibility for health matters. Only then could there be a chance of better outcomes for local patients.”