Damning report highlights major failings with cancer care services

Blank Caption
Blank Caption

A scathing new report highlights the “critical point” cancer care services have reached in Northern Ireland, a leading charity has warned.

New publicly-funded research, commissioned by the NI Assembly, has flagged up a series of failings with cancer services in the Province.

Lead researcher Dr Lesley-Ann Black said Northern Ireland’s cancer strategy was lagging behind the rest of the UK, having not been updated in almost a decade.

And, reacting to her report, MacMillan Cancer Support NI voiced concerns that without a functioning government in place there is no prospects of “urgent and much-needed reforms”.

In her report, Dr Black revealed that none of the three ministerial cancer waiting time targets have been achieved in several years. One target has never been achieved – eight years after its inception.

She also said evidence suggested more could be done in terms of earlier diagnosis and more timely treatment.

According to the report, 45% of cancer patients in Northern Ireland receive a late diagnosis.

Dr Black warned that this makes cancer “far more difficult to treat” and “impacts on patient quality of life and survival rates”.

Workforce issues were also raised, with Dr Black stating that GPs are under “severe workload and staffing pressures”.

This, coupled with a shortage of radiologists, has led to delays with diagnostic tests, the report stated.

Heather Monteverde, head of Macmillan Services for NI said the report was “yet another stark insight into the critical point we have reached”.

She added that “current political inertia” means people are not getting the quality healthcare they need and are being “disadvantaged”.

The research paper – which is entitled ‘Cancer: Northern Ireland’ – is headed with the date June 28, and was shared by Stormont’s Research and Information Service on Twitter on July 25.