Bradshaw extremely worried after cancer waiting times statistics revealed

Alliance MLA Paula Bradshaw has said she is “extremely worried” after it was revealed several cancer waiting times are not being met.

Ms Bradshaw, who is Chair of the Assembly All-Party Group on Cancer, was speaking after the publication of the latest cancer waiting times statistics by the Department of Health. They detail waiting times for patients accessing cancer services at hospitals during July, August and September 2018.

Among other figures, they showed the number of patients accessing first treatment following an urgent GP referral for suspect cancer within the 62-day target had fallen by almost three per cent from the month before and almost one per cent from the year before.

“Despite huge amounts of additional funding being made available by the Department of Health in recent years, it does not seem to have made any difference. So a better, long-term approach is urgently required,” said the South Belfast MLA.

“On the All-Party Group, we have been highlighting the growing numbers of people being diagnosed with cancer, the need for investment in diagnostic treatment, requirement for a workforce recruitment drive and staff development programme, and more funding for preventative measures such as vaccine programmes, and community education programmes.

“All of this activity should be encompassed within a comprehensive cancer strategy for Northern Ireland, and while there have been some murmurings about such a strategy forthcoming, there has been no evidence of its formulation or engagement around its content.

“My mother passed from cancer in 2018 and I witnessed first-hand the devastating impact on the patient and their families and carers. I also saw the huge effort and range of treatment our hardworking cancer healthcare staff put into her treatment and care, and I firmly believe they deserve more resources and more colleagues. In short, we need our Department of Health to accelerate its efforts to bring forward this cancer strategy as soon as possible, to ensure the upward trend in cancer is arrested and then reversed.”

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