Welsh cancer waiting time targets missed despite progress

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Key waiting time targets for cancer patients are still being missed despite improvements, figures have revealed.

The Welsh Government target is for 95% of urgent patients to be seen by a specialist within 62 days.

Figures for January showed 86.5% (492 out of 569) started treatment for urgent cancer cases within that time.

Macmillan Cancer Support in Wales called the figures "disappointing" but the Welsh Government said it was the best performance in six months.

It said the January figures were up from 86.2% in December 2015 and were the best performance since July 2015.

Three health boards - Betsi Cadwaladr, Aneurin Bevan and Hywel Dda - achieved 90% or higher while Abertawe Bro Morgannwg treated 114 out of 139 people within the target time - the most treated within 62 days since June 2015.

The figures also showed 96% of people (787 out of 820) of non-urgent cancer cases began treatment within 31 days - short of the 98% target.

It comes after Deputy Health Minister Vaughan Gething asked each of Wales' health boards to produce 100-day plans to improve cancer services.

Susan Morris, head of services for Macmillan Cancer Support in Wales, said: "Macmillan is disappointed that the urgent and non-urgent cancer waiting times targets have both been missed.

"The percentage of people starting non-urgent cancer treatment on time has dropped from 98.9% to 96% since December, which is worrying."

"Delays in starting cancer treatment increases anxiety for patients and their loved ones, can lead to a worse experience and can also mean that their treatment will not be as successful."

Responding to the figures, Mr Gething said: "I'm pleased to see an improvement in the number of people newly-diagnosed with cancer starting treatment within the 62-day target.

"While two of Wales' health boards are treating more than 90% of patients within target time on a consistent basis, I want every health board achieving consistently high levels of performance so people with cancer receive timely access to treatment."

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