Betsi Cadwaladr Health Board ‘routinely failing’ first appointment breast cancer patients ‘shocking’ new figures reveal
People in North Wales with suspected breast cancer are waiting too long for their first hospital appointment ‘shock’ figures reveal.
The Welsh Government has said more people are surviving breast cancer, despite an increase in diagnoses however, Welsh Liberal Democrats say Betsi Cadwaladr Health Board is routinely failing breast cancer patients.
A Freedom of Information response showed the average wait for a first appointment at Wrexham Maelor is 14 working days, while the average wait in Ysbyty Glan Clwyd and Ysbyty Gwynedd is 21 working days.
Welsh Government guidance states that a person suspected of having cancer should receive their first outpatient appointment within 10 working days of their initial referral, a target 95% of patients initially suspected of having cancer should start definitive treatment within 62 days of diagnosis.
In 2013 Health Minister, Mark Drakeford stated;
“I want to make it clear – and I have made it clear to those people who advise me at the most senior level about cancer target times – that I expect the 62-day target to be reached. They say to me that the real key to doing that is to make sure that everybody gets a first out-patient appointment within 10 working days of initial referral.”
The Minister went on to say;
“I have said that I expect local health boards to make that initial appointment within 10 days happen, officials will monitor that on a weekly basis to emphasise the importance we attach to achieving those waiting time targets.”
“These figures are truly shocking.
“Being told that you may have breast cancer is an incredibly stressful time for any person. No-one should be waiting over two weeks until their first appointment but it’s clear that the vast majority of patients are being forced to wait far longer than that.
“It’s vitally important that patients suspected of suffering from cancer are seen promptly. Clearly, that simply isn’t happening at the moment and it’s disgraceful that the average wait for a first appointment is currently more than three weeks.
“It’s very worrying that Betsi Cadwaladr Health Board was one of the only health boards that refused to give us all the information that we asked for.
“Cancer causes one in four deaths in Wales, which is why the Welsh Liberal Democrats would appoint a National Cancer Director to fully implement a National Cancer Plan.
“For too long patients’ views have been side-lined. Wales needs an NHS that puts patients first, and that’s what the Welsh Liberal Democrats will deliver. We’ll put patients’ views front and centre to create an NHS that Wales deserves.”
Betsi Cadwaladr UHB was one of only two health boards that refused to reveal the number of people that have waited over 10 working days.
However figures from those health board that did respond show that since 2013, the total number of people not seen within 10 days – 11,793 with the longest wait – 207 days Abertawe Bro Morgannwg health board, the longest average wait – 24 days Aneurin Bevan health board.
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