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Macmillan warns of inequality and growing pressure within Wales’ cancer care system

Macmillan Cancer Support has welcomed an improvement in cancer treatment waiting times in Wales but warns that significant pressures are yet to come.

The charity has also called out the inequalities that exist within cancer treatment in Wales, highlighting that people with some forms of cancer are waiting far longer than others for their treatment to begin.

Using data for August, published today, Macmillan points to urological cancers as an example – where half of people with urological cancer had to wait at least 87 days or more for their treatment to begin from the point their cancer was first suspected.

The charity also warns that while any improvement in waiting times must be welcomed, the significant challenges of additional winter demands and expected NHS budget pressures are all set to potentially impact on cancer treatment in the future.

Responding to the latest cancer treatment waiting times data, Glenn Page, Macmillan Policy Manager for Wales said: “This data shows a welcome improvement, at a time when Wales cannot afford to take a single step backwards when it comes to providing the timely, high-quality care that people with cancer need.

“But this improvement must not mask the fact that in August – a month free of the additional pressures of winter – more than 750 people with cancer still faced devastating delays in their care.

“As we head into the winter period and continue to work against a backdrop of increasing cancer referrals, the Welsh Government must protect cancer services from budgetary pressures and improve support for people living with cancer.

“Urgent action is also needed from Welsh Government to tackle inequalities in cancer waiting times, with an unrelenting focus on improving things for those facing the longest waits.

“In August, half of people with urological cancer had to wait at least 87 days or more for treatment to start from when their cancer was first suspected.  That is simply not acceptable.

“Urgency is now needed from Welsh Government to not only deliver on the target that at least 75% of people will be treated within 62 days, but to ensure that treatment waiting times, for all cancer types, see an equal improvement in the future.”

Macmillan recently launched its ‘What are we waiting for?’ campaign to speak up for people affected by treatment delays, by calling on all governments in the UK to take urgent action to reduce cancer treatment waiting times.