Charity says NI cancer patients waiting too long for diagnosis

By Gillian Crotty

Cancer Research UK has criticised the growing waiting times for a cancer diagnostic test in Northern Ireland, with 36.5 per cent of patients waiting longer than the target 9 weeks.

The Northern Ireland Department of Health released statistics showing that 103,180 patients in Northern Ireland were waiting for a cancer diagnostic service as of 31st March, a 10.3 per cent increase on the same quarter last year, but a 2.1 per cent decrease on the previous quarter. There is a target of ensuring that no more than 25 per cent of patients receive a cancer diagnostic test outside the 9 week target, but the figures show that 36.5 per cent failed to be tested within that timeframe. The situation is particularly bad in the Belfast HSC Trust where 51.9 per cent of patients have had to wait more than 9 weeks, equating to 18,636 people waiting on a cancer diagnostic test.

Of those who had not been diagnosed within the 9 week target, approximately 10,000 patients had still not been tested after 26 weeks. Margaret Carr of Cancer Research UK said that "Quick access to tests is a vital part of diagnosing cancer early" and that "patients must be diagnosed and treated swiftly if they are to have the best chance of survival". She said that the figures gave "a clear indication that the Health Service in Northern Ireland is not coping with increased demand for diagnostic tests".

Delays in diagnosis and treatment of any illness can result in the condition worsening when it could have otherwise been treated or managed. That is why many targets set by hospitals revolve around the amount of time patients wait to be seen, to receive an appointment, to be diagnosed and to be treated.

If you have suffered injury or loss as a result of a delay in diagnosis or treatment, or as a result of receiving a poor standard of medical care, contact one of the clinical negligence solicitors at Wilson Nesbitt in Belfast by clicking here to discuss your options to pursue a medical negligence compensation claim.