Northern Ireland: cancer waiting lists lengthen

22 July 2020

From January to March 2020, the percentage of patients with an urgent GP referral for suspected cancer starting treatment within 62 days was an average of 49% – the ministerial target is 95%.

All health trusts missed the target for the quarter, reveal waiting-time statistics from the Northern Ireland Department of Health.

Health minister Robin Swann said the statistics ‘provide a stark reminder of the massive challenges that face the healthcare system in Northern Ireland.’ And they ‘illustrate the vital necessity of a major overhaul of how we provide healthcare across all disciplines’.

He also cautioned that due to the restructuring changes necessitated by Covid-19 ‘the waiting lists for the second quarter will in all likelihood be even worse’.

On a more positive note, Robin praised ‘the health service and the magnificent staff who work in it’ for their response to the pandemic. He suggested this ‘sense of unity and purpose’ would provide the right foundation for change.

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