Waiting time targets for patients newly diagnosed with cancer – via the urgent suspected route – have been missed again, breaking a promise made by the First Minister in the National Assembly.
80.5 per cent of patients (384 out of 477) started ‘definitive treatment’ within the target time of 62 days.
The 95% target has not been met once since 2008.
In January, the First Minister was questioned on cancer waiting times by Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire Assembly Member Angela Burns.
Mr Jones said: We expect to keep that promise by the end of March (transcript below).
Today’s figures cover the month of April.
Shadow Minister for Health, Darren Millar AM, said:
“It is wholly unfair that cancer patients are being forced to wait this long. It is equally unacceptable that the First Minister has misled them.
“It remains extremely serious that this target has not been met in five years – and I urge Carwyn Jones to explain why he felt confident enough to make this promise in January – and why it has been broken.
“When a patient receives the devastating news that they have suspected cancer, rapid progression to treatment is vital.
“Instead, Labour’s record-breaking NHS cuts continue to constrain capacity and put additional pressure on already over-stretched staff.
“This – as access to cancer treatments remains unfair. Patients in Wales are five times less likely to routinely access some drugs than patients elsewhere in the UK.
“Despite this – Labour Ministers continue to rule out our calls for a five million pounds Cancer Treatments Fund.”
Assembly Member for Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire, Angela Burns, said:
“The First Minister was definitive in his guarantee earlier this year. Today that promise stands broken.
“Earlier this month I challenged the government again and asked if the First Minister’s own delivery unit should investigate the lack of progress on cancer waiting times.
“Again a promise that things were on the mend - again patients have been let down.
“It stands to reason that Wales deserves an apology – and a truthful explanation of when we will see desperately needed improvements.
“It’s time for Carwyn Jones’ government to revisit its record-breaking cuts to the NHS budget and ensure that cancer services in Wales are properly funded.”
RECORD OF PROCEEDINGS – JANUARY 15th 2013
…..I would like to ask you about the progress report for 2012 in relation to health promises. One of the actions in your responses is to look at improving access and patient experience. Can you give us an update on when you might be able to meet the cancer waiting times targets that you agreed to adhere to? Of all of the illnesses that might strike one, having to wait for cancer treatment can prove to be extremely terminal. It would be useful to the people of Wales if that was one of the promises that you were able to keep this year.
The First Minister
We expect to keep that promise by the end of March.