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Charity estimates 1200 people in Wales 'faced delays' in cancer treatment

Macmillan Wales issued the warning after the latest cancer waiting times report. Credit: PA

A charity is warning that cancer patients in Wales are facing "anxious and unacceptable" waits for their treatment. Macmillan Wales estimates 1200 people did not start their cancer treatment on time last year.

Figures from the cancer waiting times report show 87.2% of patients started urgent treatment within the target time last year. Macmillan Wales says that figures is "well below" the 95 per cent target set by Welsh Government.

This report shows some worrying trends in cancer care - not only is Wales consistently failing to meet its cancer treatment targets, there is also significant variation in how quickly people with different types of cancer are being treated. Delays in treatment cause unimaginable stress and anxiety for people with cancer, and their loved ones, and can have a direct impact on people's long-term health. We must see urgent improvement and, to achieve this, we need to see a commitment to early diagnosis, ensuring we have the right cancer care workforce and the right IT systems, to support the growing number of people with cancer in Wales to start their treatment on time.

– Richard Pugh, Head of Services for Macmillan Wales

A recent study suggested that patients in Wales who have bowel cancer face a longer wait for treatment compared to England, Scotland, and Northern Ireland.

Last month the Welsh Government announced a new "streamlined" cancer pathway for patients. The Single Suspected Cancer Pathway is intended to improve quality and outcomes for cancer patients in Wales.

The NHS in Wales is seeing and treating more patients than ever before. In the last 12 months. 17,033 patients started definitive treatment for cancer, that’s 8.6% more than five years ago. And 15,730 patients started treatment within the target times, that’s 8.1% more than five years ago. We are working with health boards to improve performance further and introducing the single cancer pathway to improve quality and outcomes for cancer patients in Wales.

– Welsh Government Spokesperson

ITV Wales News spoke to Gale Kidman who was diagnosed with stage three breast cancer in 2013. She faced a number of delays both in diagnosis and treatment.