SDLP Health Spokesperson Colin McGrath has said that cancer patients in the North have been continually failed throughout the Covid-19 pandemic.
He was commenting after the latest cancer waiting time figures from the Department of Health showed all targets had been missed.
South Down MLA Mr McGrath said:
“That all targets for the North’s cancer waiting times have been missed is deeply regrettable. I can only imagine the anxiety this causes for patients and their families as they wait for potentially life-saving treatment. Many people have suffered as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic and we cannot forget the impact on those who are waiting for important healthcare.
“Statistics show that cancer rates are continuing to increase in the North, with referrals for suspected breast cancer increasing by over 500 in just one year. Despite the urgent need to diagnose and treat breast cancer just over 75% of patients were seen within the 14-day target. This simply isn’t good enough. We are also still yet to receive clarity on whether the department will begin collating figures of those suffering from secondary breast cancer, despite raising the issue with Health Minister Robin Swann.
“Our struggling health system cannot continue to fail patients with cancer and those in need of other important medical treatments. While our health staff have worked tirelessly to support patients throughout the pandemic, the problems in our health service were clear before any of us ever heard of Covid-19. Years of mismanagement and neglect have led our health service to this position and it’s the patients who are suffering.
“I find it insulting and outrageous that while ordinary people are trying to get access to life saving treatments, the establishment parties have been threatening to collapse the political institutions and walk away from government. Their self-serving spats wont help anyone on a waiting list, they’ll only make things much worse. These are the people we should be focused on helping right now.”