Cancer patients ‘losing out’ in Stormont crisis

Paula Bradley
Paula Bradley

Sinn Fein’s refusal to restore devolution is having major consequences for cancer patients in Northern Ireland, a DUP MLA has warned.

Figures published yesterday by the Department of Health revealed government targets for cancer patients waiting times have once again been missed in the Province.

All five of the health trusts failed to meet the targets at the end of the second quarter of 2017.

Only 68.4% of patients with an urgent referral for suspected cancer started treatment within 62 days between April-June 2017.

The target is 95%, and has never been met since it was set in 2009.

DUP MLA Paula Bradley said people were suffering due to the ongoing political vacuum at Stormont.

She added: “The cancer waiting times are yet another example of life and death issues which are not receiving the necessary focus because the formation of an Executive has been blocked.”

Margaret Carr, Cancer Research UK’s public affairs manager for NI, said the stark figures show “just how much diagnostic services are stretched”.

She added: “Northern Ireland is the only part of the UK that does not have an up-to-date cancer strategy. With more people than ever before being diagnosed with cancer, the situation is unacceptable and must be resolved urgently.

“But without an Executive and Assembly, any progress is limited and so patients continue to lose out. Patients must be diagnosed and treated early if they are to have the best chance of survival.”