SDLP Health Spokesperson Colin McGrath has said that people’s lives are being put at risk after targets for treating cancer were missed again.
Mr McGrath was speaking following the publication of the cancer waiting time statistics for October-December 2021.
Over the three month period more than half of patients urgently referred by a GP for suspected cancer waited longer than the 62 day target for treatment.
The 31 day target for treatment following a decision to treat was also missed, while less than half of urgent breast cancer referrals were seen within the 14 day target.
SDLP South Down Assembly candidate Mr McGrath said:
“The latest cancer waiting time statistics from the Department of Health make for truly frightening reading. All targets were missed and in some cases less than half of patients are being seen in the recommended timeframe. This just isn’t good enough and I can only imagine the impact this is having on sick people in our communities.
“The long waits some cancer patients are facing for treatment is putting lives at risk. People with cancer know that every day is crucial when it comes to treatment to give them the best chance of making a full recovery and it’s an absolute disgrace that we are forcing people who are sick to wait longer and longer for treatment.
“Not being able to treat people in the timeframe required will put patients and their families under huge pressure at what is already a distressing time. We all know the pressures our health service is dealing with, but even then these figures and the situation that is unfolding for cancer patients in the North is shocking.
“I know that our tireless health staff do everything in their power to get patients the treatment they need, but the reality is our health service is broken and the failure to implement long-recommended reform is having a huge impact as we deal with the fallout from the coronavirus pandemic. Nearly a quarter of people in the North are now on a health service waiting list, but for cancer patients the situation is much more desperate. My heart goes out to everyone who has been forced to wait for treatment and the SDLP will be bringing forward a number of proposals in the coming weeks to slash waiting lists, save lives and rebuild our health service so that everyone can get the care they need, when they need it.”