Figures show Southern Trust cancer services well below target

May 1, 2017

Southern Trust cancer services are failing some patients, according to leading charity Cancer Research UK.

New figures show that cancer services across Northern Ireland are well below par, with just 68.6 per cent of patients beginning treatment within 62 days of an urgent referral last December – well below the 95 per cent target.

All health trusts missed the target for the quarter, as well as a target for all urgent breast cancer referrals to receive an assessment by a specialist within 14 days.  A total of 91.4 per cent of patients were seen in the two-week timeframe in December – down from 99.4 per cent in October but up from just 49.5 per cent a year earlier.

The Southern Trust fared worst in the figures with just 39% of patients seen by a breast cancer specialist within the 14 day target last December.

Cancer Research UK said the Department of Health figures show a “consistent inability” to meet targets, and called for a new strategy to deal with increased demand for treatment.

“The lives of patients depend on swift, efficient and effective access to cancer services. Every extra day of waiting is stacking the odds in cancer’s favour,” said spokeswoman Margaret Carr.

“Northern Ireland is the only part of the UK without an up-to-date cancer strategy.

“With the number of people being diagnosed with cancer rising, a strategy on how the health service in Northern Ireland will cope with increased demand is more urgently needed than ever.”