SDLP Health Spokesperson, Mark H Durkan, has described the failure to meet a single ministerial target on cancer waiting times a disgrace that requires urgent political attention.
The Foyle MLA has called on parties to double their efforts to seek a restoration of an inclusive, power-sharing Executive to provide political and strategic leadership at the Department of Health, to mitigate the current crisis.
Mr Durkan said: “Figures published today, from July to September 2019, show that once again we have missed all three ministerial targets for cancer waiting times. Indeed, in some of the ministerial targets, the figures have worsened from 2018. These figures represent real people enduring the agony of waiting for assessment and treatment for life threatening and life limiting conditions. It isn’t good enough and we all have to face up to it.”
“This is, once again, a symptom of the failure to address the crisis in our health service. This underlines the seriousness of the current talks process. This is the real cost of failure – the lives and quality of life of hundreds of people in all of our communities.”
The Foyle MLA added:
“All parties must redouble their efforts to secure a resolution that restores inclusive, power sharing government. We have an unprecedented crisis in our health service. It is on its knees and we must all must step up and play our part to solve it.”
The draft 2019/20 Ministerial target has three components associated with cancer waiting times:
- The Ministerial Target on waiting times for treatment following an urgent referral for suspect cancer states that, ‘During 2019/20, 95% of patients urgently referred with a suspect cancer should begin their treatment within 62 days’.
- The Ministerial Target on waiting times for cancer treatment following a decision to treat states that, ‘During 2019/20, at least 98% of patients diagnosed with cancer should receive their first definitive treatment within 31 days of a decision to treat’.
- The Ministerial Target on waiting times for a first assessment with a breast cancer specialist states that, ‘During 2019/20, all urgent breast cancer referrals should be seen within 14 days’.