Three key waiting time targets for cancer patients in Northern Ireland have been missed, according to the latest figures.
The figures cover the last 3 months of 2016 and show that only 68% of patients started treatment within 62 days of an urgent referral, far short of the 95% target which has never been met.
The target for all breast cancer patients to be seen within 2 weeks of an urgent referral was missed by 9%. The target for 98% of all cancer patients being treated within 31 days of a decision to treat was missed by 2%.
Margaret Carr from Cancer Research UK said: that an inability to meet these targets means that cancer services in Northern Ireland are failing some patients.
“Cancer is the leading cause of death in Northern Ireland,” said Carr. “The lives of patients depend on swift, efficient and effect access to cancer services. Every extra day of waiting is stacking the odds in cancer’s favour.”
Northern Ireland is the only part of the UK without an up-to-date cancer strategy, and the latest figures brought calls for this to be reviewed.
“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,” said Carr.