Macmillan warns that delays to life saving cancer care are worse than ever before

Macmillan Cancer Support has warned that Wales has once again registered its worst ever performance on cancer treatment targets since current records began.

Data released today shows that in October only 52.2% of people with cancer started their treatment on time – leaving 810 people to face anxious delays in just one month alone.

Macmillan warns that people with cancer in Wales now face a situation where almost 1 in 2 of them will experience delays in the life-saving cancer care they so desperately need.

For some cancer types, those delays are becoming even more worrying, with only 33.7% of people with lower gastrointestinal, 36.1% of gynaecological and 37.2% of head and neck cancers being treated on time.

The charity is now calling for greater support for existing NHS staff who are working tirelessly to treat more cancer patients than ever before, with the numbers of people requiring cancer treatment consistently being well above historic levels.

Glenn Page, Policy Manager for Macmillan Cancer Support in Wales said: “Unfortunately, we are seeing out 2022 in the same way as we started it back in January, with a dire warning that delays in cancer care are worse than ever before. That warning has been repeated throughout a year in which the coronavirus crisis has quickly been overtaken by a crisis in cancer care itself.

“The direction of travel over the course of this year couldn’t be more wrong, with Wales moving ever further away from meeting its national cancer treatment targets.

“That direction of travel must be reversed in 2023, but that will only happen when hardworking NHS staff get the leadership they need, from both the UK and the Welsh Government. 

“NHS staff are exhausted, and they need the Welsh Government to bring forward a national workforce plan for health and social care, so existing staff know support is on its way.

“We look forward to the Welsh Government bringing forward its Wales Cancer Services Action Plan in the new year – a plan shaped by people with cancer and those who care for them, and a plan that everyone involved in cancer care can rally behind.

“2023 must be the year in which the right funding and the right cancer care system is put in place to tackle worsening cancer treatment waiting times. Wales cannot continue its current trajectory and must begin to take some determined steps forward in making sure people receive life-saving cancer treatments on time.

“Macmillan continues to do everything it can to help, and we are here for anyone with cancer and their loved ones. For advice, information or a chat, you can call us free on 0808 808 0000 or visit macmillan.org.uk.”

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