Wales politics

Welsh cancer target now missed for six years

Chemotherapy Image copyright Science Photo Library
Image caption Welsh ministers say they are working with health boards to improve cancer care

A target requiring all urgent cancer patients in Wales to begin treatment within 62 days has now been missed for six years, the latest figures show.

In June 84.3% of urgent cases were treated within the time limit, compared to 88.5% in May.

The Conservatives said it was a "national shame" while the Liberal Democrats said it was "unacceptable".

Ministers said the number of people being treated within the target had risen as demand for services increased.

The target was last met in June 2008.

The Conservatives said Labour's "entire approach" to cancer care in Wales should be questioned.

Number of urgent cancer patients treated within 62 days

  • June: 479 out of 568 (84.3%)
  • May: 424 out of 479 (88.5%)
  • April: 479 out of 534 (89.7%)

Source: Welsh government

Shadow Health Minister Darren Millar said: "Hard-working staff have been hampered by Labour's record-breaking Welsh NHS budget cuts and it's about time they received the support they deserve."

Welsh Liberal Democrat leader Kirsty Williams said cancer patients and their families should not be left "in the lurch without the timely treatment they need".

She said: "Waiting for over two months to start treatment is completely unacceptable, yet for many cancer patients it's the reality under Welsh Labour's NHS."

Responding to the criticism, the Welsh government said the figures showed the "vast majority" of cancer patients were starting treatment within the target times.

A spokesman said: "Despite demand for cancer services continuing to rise, the NHS in Wales is treating more people within target time.

"Over the course of the last 12 months (July 2013 to June 2014) there has been an almost 20% increase in the number of patients starting treatment within the 62-day target time - 901 more patients than the previous 12-month period (July 2012 to June 2013)."

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