‘Cancer patients in Wales are facing agonisingly long waits until start of treatment’ – Kirsty Williams

2012 Mehefin 7 2:39 PM

Statistics released today have shown that hundreds of cancer sufferers in Wales are facing agonising delays until the start of their NHS treatment.

Figures have shown that Welsh Government set targets are routinely being missed, with only one Local Health Board managing to hit the 95% target of urgent suspected cancer patients being treated within 62 days. Performance varied from 84% of patients in Abertawe Bro Morgannwg University starting treatment with 62 days of referral, compared to 96% of patients in Aneurin Bevan.

Kirsty Williams, leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats, commented:

"Once again we are seeing yet further evidence, if any were needed, that this Welsh Labour Government is struggling to get a grip on cancer waiting times. The Health Minister has said that she has demanded 'urgent action' to fix the problem, but this futile gesture will do little to repair her Government's mishandling of our NHS over the last decade.

"There is a huge variation with regards to the speed of treatment a patient will receive depending on what type of cancer they have. For example, 23% of patients suffering from suspected head and neck cancer have been forced to wait over two months until the start of their treatment, while nearly all breast cancer patients started treatment within the required time. Of course it is very much welcome that suspected breast cancer patients are getting timely treatment, but the productivity of treatment should not be dictated by the type of cancer a person has. It is imperative that all urgent suspected cancer patients receive treatment promptly, otherwise there is a chance that their health can seriously deteriorate.

"Only this week the Welsh Liberal Democrats revealed how the Welsh Government has been skewing figures in an attempt to suggest that Welsh patients are receiving much more funding per head than patients in England. We all know that patient waiting times are shorter than in England; the people of Wales will not be duped so easily."

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