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  1. ITV Report

New measuring of waiting times could mean quicker diagnosis and treatment of cancer in Wales

It is part of a programme to improve the timeliness, consistency and quality of cancer care in Wales. Credit: PA

The time it takes for cancer patients to be diagnosed and treated could be shortened as the measurement of waiting times has changed in Wales.

Waiting times are being measured from when a patient's cancer is first suspected, rather than from when the hospital receives their referral.

More than 74 per cent of people with cancer were treated within 62 days under the new Single Cancer Pathway, according to the Welsh Government.

17,600
people are diagnosed with cancer every year in Wales.
The measure has been designed and developed by clinicians. Credit: PA

An extra £3m a year is being provided by the Welsh Government to help roll out the change.

I am very pleased Wales is leading the way in the UK by adopting the new Single Cancer Pathway, which has broad support from clinicians and charities.

We are supporting health boards to improve performance against the new measure and I’m confident it will lead to an improved service for people affected by cancer. This is a vital step forward in improving cancer outcomes in Wales.

– Vaughan Gething AM, Health Minister
Cancer patients will have their waiting time measured in one consistent way, regardless of how their cancer is identified. Credit: PA

The two existing cancer waiting times are based on how the cancer is identified and puts people on either a 31-day pathway or a 62-day pathway.

In England, an 'urgent referral' means that you should see a specialist within two weeks. In Northern Ireland, the two week wait only applies if you are referred for suspected breast cancer.

This two week time limit does not currently exist in Wales or Scotland, according to Cancer Research UK.

Macmillian Cancer Support has welcomed the move.

As well as showing where the system’s working well, we it will highlight areas for improvement, including gaps in the cancer workforce, which can be addressed to make sure people with cancer can have timely treatment and support to help them live life as fully as they can.

– Richard Pugh, Head of Services (Wales), Macmillan Cancer Support