Targets on cancer treatment in Northern Ireland missed again

Only 69% of cancer patients with an urgent referral from their GP started treatment within 62 days
Only 69% of cancer patients with an urgent referral from their GP started treatment within 62 days

The continuing failure of Northern Ireland’s health trusts to meet cancer patient waiting time targets must be addressed, a leading cancer research charity has said.

New figures released on Thursday show that in March only 69% of those with an urgent referral from their GP (234 of 339) started treatment within 62 days. In January 2017 the figure was 67% (253 out of 377 patients).

During the last quarter (January to March 2017) all of the Province’s health trusts missed the target of 95% which was introduced in 2009.

Margaret Carr of Cancer Research UK in Northern Ireland, said: “The fact these targets have once again been missed is sadly an all too familiar picture. We know an early diagnosis and swift access to appropriate treatment is key to a patient’s best chance of survival.”

Ms Carr added: “The repeated failure to meet cancer waiting times targets shows the system is creaking under the weight of increased demand and a plan of action is urgently needed. Northern Ireland is the only part of the UK without an up-to-date cancer strategy. It’s crucial we see fast progress on this to ensure no one is left waiting too long.”