Delays in treatment for bowel cancer patients in Northern Ireland
The Department of Health in Northern Ireland has released the country's latest cancer waiting time results from April to June this year.
The findings show that two thirds of bowel cancer patients are waiting more than the 62 day target to start their treatment from the point they were referred.
Ministerial targets state that 95% of patients urgently referred for suspected cancer should start their treatment within 62 days. This target, set in 2009, has never been met by any health trust in Northern Ireland.
Claire Donaghy, Head of Northern Ireland at Bowel Cancer UK, says: "We have known for a long time that patients who have symptoms of bowel cancer are waiting beyond the target for tests that can diagnose bowel cancer. This is because there simply isn't enough qualified staff to carry out these life-saving endoscopy tests.
"We're concerned this is only going to get worse when the government introduce the new, easier to use and more accurate bowel screening test in the country early next year. It's been proven to increase uptake in screening, which will lead to more referrals for endoscopy tests and therefore put further pressure on an already overstretched service.
"We are working with the Department of Health on the country's new cancer strategy to tackle the growing endoscopy crisis in Northern Ireland. Until this is done, services will continue to struggle to provide high quality care and people will wait too long to start lifesaving treatment."
- Read more about how we plan to tackle long waiting times in our End the Capacity Crisis campaign
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- Find out more about our work in Northern Ireland