Cancer treatment waiting times take vital second step in improvement, but almost half face anxious delays

Cancer treatment waiting times take vital second step in improvement, but almost half face anxious delays

Macmillan Cancer Support has today welcomed a further improvement in cancer treatment waiting times.

While the charity warns that far too many people with cancer still face anxious treatment delays, it says this welcome improvement bucks a consistent trend of worsening performance over recent years.

Latest performance data for March shows that Wales’ performance improved with 55.3% of people with cancer being treated within the national 62 days target, compared to 52.5% the previous month, which was the second lowest on record.

Macmillan welcomes the fact that this was not only the second month in a row where performance improved, but that this hard-won improvement was delivered at a time when the number of people coming into the system was also one of the highest on record.

People affected were not treated on time

The charity does warn that significant concerns remain, however, with nearly half of people with cancer still facing delays in receiving life-saving treatment.

Those concerns are also heightened for some forms of cancer, like gynaecological cancer, where almost 3 in 4 of the people affected were not treated on time.

Richard Pugh, Head of Partnerships for Macmillan Cancer Support in Wales said: “While this news will provide little comfort for the significant number of people with cancer who still face anxious delays, this is a welcome improvement which was achieved during one of the busiest months on record.

“The trend for 2022 was that the number of people facing delays to starting treatment accelerated faster than the overall numbers of people being seen – a sure sign of a system failing to cope.

Green shoots of recovery

“These green shoots of recovery, with two months in a row bucking a consistently downward trend must now be built upon and we hope they signify a change in trajectory when it comes to making sure people receive cancer treatment on time.

“This recovery must be a recovery for all. We need to bring everyone with us and with some cancer types seeing as many as 3 in 4 people facing heart-breaking delays in their care, there could be no clearer sign of just how difficult and long a road this may prove to be.

“Macmillan continues to do everything we 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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