Cancer care system in Wales ‘at breaking point’
The cancer care system in Wales is “unsustainable” and “at breaking point”, according to a leading charity.
The latest NHS Wales data shows that in July only 56.6% of people with cancer received their treatment on time – a figure which falls well short of both current national targets and the Welsh Government’s plans of treating 80% of people in time by 2026.
The figures for July record an improvement 3.2 percentage points compared to the previous month and are 0.9 percentage points higher than July 2022 and the highest since March 2023. 1,812 pathways where the patient was newly diagnosed with cancer started their first definitive treatment in July, a decrease of 3.6% compared to the previous month.
Macmillan Cancer Support says Wales’ current target of treating 75% of people with cancer on time has never been met – leaving cancer patients to face “devastating waits” for potentially life-saving treatment.
The charity is now calling for urgent action to support both NHS staff, and the people they care for – and to fund and train more specialist cancer roles to help manage the growing need for cancer care in Wales.
Glenn Page, Macmillan Policy Manager for Wales said: “While any improvement in cancer treatment waiting times is welcome, the data still shows that in July, as in every other month over the last two years, the Welsh Government has failed to meet targets for treating people with cancer on time.
“The figures show a cancer care system that is unsustainable and at breaking point, with people living with cancer facing devastating delays and being let down by the very systems designed to support them.
“People recently diagnosed with cancer, and the tireless NHS staff who care for them, know all too well that cancer treatment is time critical.
“Both patients and exhausted NHS professionals will now quite rightly look towards the targets set by the Welsh Government and ask, ‘what are we waiting for?’ Urgent action must be taken to ensure people with cancer can get the timely, high-quality care they need.”
A Welsh Government spokesperson said: “Cancer treatment has increased against the 62 day target but the Welsh Government accept that there is still more to do in this area despite the fact that 14,074 people were informed in one month that they did not have cancer.”
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