Macmillan Cancer Support is warning cancer treatment waiting times in Wales have once again reached their lowest point since records began, with almost 50% of people with cancer facing worrying delays in their treatment.
Published today, the latest data shows that in May only 53% of cancer patients started their treatment within 62 days – well below Wales’ national target of treating 75% of people on time. This is the joint worst data on record, and repeats a low first seen in January.
Not only is this a drop on the previous month, the data also shows worrying variation in treatment times for different cancer types – as few as 25.6% of gynaecological, 33.3% of sarcoma and 32.8% of head and neck cancer patients started their treatment on time.
With May also being one of the busiest months on record, and well above the pre-pandemic average, the charity is warning that despite the best efforts of hard-working NHS staff, Wales’ cancer care system is now failing to keep up with demand for life saving cancer treatments.
Richard Pugh, Head of Partnerships for Macmillan Cancer Support in Wales said: “In just one month alone we have seen well over 700 people with cancer being left to face anxious delays, delays which could have an impact on the success of their treatment.
“Almost 1 in 2 people with cancer in Wales now face delays. That is why the Welsh Government must begin work in earnest with people living with cancer, with cancer charities and with everyone involved in cancer care so we can develop a Wales Cancer Services Action Plan to manage the growing crisis we are facing.
“For far too long, and well before this pandemic began, there has been a trend of consistent under performance on meeting cancer treatment targets in Wales and this worsening trend shows how vitally important it is to put things right.
“Only recently the Welsh Government committed to treating 80% of people with cancer on time by 2026. The figures released today not only show just how long and difficult a journey Wales might have to take to achieve this ambition, but also how action is needed desperately in the here and now to put things back on track.”
“Macmillan is here to help people 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.”