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Shocking breast cancer waiting times revealed

March 11, 2016 12:13 PM

The Welsh Liberal Democrats have uncovered shocking figures showing that Hywel Dda Health Board is routinely failing breast cancer patients.

Mammography / Breast cancer screeningAccording to Welsh Government guidance, a person suspected of having cancer should receive their first outpatient appointment within 10 working days of their initial referral.

However, an FOI request response from Hywel Dda shows that since 2013, 2,982 patients have not received an appointment within 10 working days. The total number of referred patients was 4,682.

The figures reveal that the average wait for a patient to receive an appointment is 9 days. However, the longest a person has waited is 78 days.

The Welsh Labour Health Minister has previously stated that the "real key…is to make sure the everybody gets a first out-patient appointment within 10 working days of initial referral." He added: "I expect Local Health Boards to make that initial appointment within 10 days happen."

William Powell, Welsh Liberal Democrat AM for Mid & West Wales, commented:

"These figures are truly shocking.

"Being told that you may have breast cancer is of course an incredibly stressful time for any person. No-one should be waiting over two weeks until their first appointment.

"It's vitally important that patients suspected of suffering from cancer are seen promptly. Clearly, for many patients that simply hasn't happened.

"Cancer causes one in four deaths in Wales, which is why the Welsh Liberal Democrats would appoint a National Cancer Director to fully implement a National Cancer Plan.

"For too long patients' views have been side-lined. Wales needs an NHS that puts patients first, and that's what the Welsh Liberal Democrats will deliver. We'll put patients' views front and centre to create an NHS that Wales deserves."

Notes:

Hywel Dda

Since 2013:

  • Total referrals - 4682
  • Seen within 10 days - 1,700
  • Not seen within 10 days - 2,982
  • Average wait - 9 days
  • Longest wait - 78 days

All Wales facts

Since 2013:

  • Total number of people NOT seen within 10 days - 11,793
  • Longest wait - 207 days (Abertawe in 2013)
  • Longest average wait - 24 days - Aneurin Bevan

10 Day Guidance

On 12 June 2013 the Health Minister, Mark Drakeford, stated that:

"I want to make it clear - and I have made it clear to those people who advise me at the most senior level about cancer target times - that I expect the 62-day target to be reached. They say to me that the real key to doing that is to make sure that everybody gets a first out-patient appointment within 10 working days of initial referral."

The Minister then went on to say that:

"I have said that I expect LHBs to make that initial appointment within 10 days happen. Officials will monitor that on a weekly basis to emphasise the importance we attach to achieving those waiting time targets."

Therefore, there is Welsh Government guidance that a person suspected of having cancer should receive their first out-patient appointment within 10 working days of their initial referral, but there is no official Welsh Government policy or target to this effect.