Posted: Sat 1st Jun 2024

Charity warns cancer patients in Wales ‘let down by system

News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales

Too many people with cancer in Wales are “being let down by a system that cannot cope”, a leading charity has said.

The comments from Macmillan Cancer Support come after new figures show that in March over 600 people with cancer in Wales waited more than 62 days to start treatment from first being suspected of having cancer.

The Welsh Government’s own target is for at least 75 per cent of patients starting treatment within 62 days.

This is set to rise to 80 per cent in just two years time by 2026.

However the national cancer waiting times target in Wales has never been met since first being introduced, and an interim recovery target set by the Welsh Government has also been missed.

Recent analysis by Macmillan Cancer Care shows 2023 was the worst year on record for cancer waiting times in Wales.

Although hundreds of patients were left facing delays overall cancer waiting times improved in March, with 60.5 per cent of people with cancer in Wales (988 out of 1,633) starting their first definitive treatment within 62 days of first being suspected of cancer.

Whilst this was 7.1 percentage points higher than the previous month, it still means 645 people in Wales were left waiting too long in March 2024.

North Wales’ Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board saw the highest proportion of pathways starting their first definitive treatment within 62 days in March.

Despite this in March the total number of people starting treatment was the lowest in nearly two years.

For some cancer types performance remains concerning with only 31.8 per cent of those with gynaecological cancer staring their treatment on time.

Glenn Page, Policy and Public Affairs Manager at Macmillan Cancer Support, said that too many people in Wales are “being let down by a system that cannot cope.”

Glenn Page said: “Healthcare professionals are working around the clock, but these treatment delays are having a devastating impact on people living with cancer and throwing lives into chaos.

“We are particularly concerned about people with gynaecological cancers who are more likely to face delays, with today’s data for March showing only one in three of those affected started their treatment on time.

“Despite a recent report from the Senedd’s Health and Social Care Committee raising concerns, the Welsh Government’s response has left many women feeling let down.

“It doesn’t have to be this way. It’s time for the Welsh Government to not only listen to the concerns of people living with cancer, but to deliver real change and improvement within cancer care before the situation gets any worse.

“If you or someone you love is affected by cancer, we’re here, whatever you need to ask. Call Macmillan’s free support line on 0808 808 00 00, open everyday 8am to 8pm.”

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