The latest cancer waiting figures have been published today (18th February 2021), marking the moment when the single cancer pathway becomes the benchmark cancer waiting time measure for patients in Wales.
This ambitious, yet very welcomed move has at its heart a desire to transform cancer services across Wales – improving speed of diagnosis, reduced cancer waiting times and increasing patient satisfaction with their cancer experience.
However, the Covid-19 pandemic presents a significant challenge. There is no suggestion, nearly twelve months on, that patient numbers have recovered to pre-Covid levels. There remains an unknown, but significant, number of people with signs and symptoms of cancer that urgently need to speak to their GP.
Cancer Research Wales’ Chief Executive, Ann Tate, said;
“The move towards a single cancer waiting time measure is a welcome development. The single cancer pathway will better reflect the state of cancer services across Wales. We have to continue on the path towards transformation; identifying and investing in innovative cancer research, preventing more cancers and diagnosing cancer earlier.”
“The success of the single cancer pathway will depend on Welsh cancer charities, the Welsh Government and NHS Wales coming together and working strategically. The soon to be published All Wales Cancer Research Strategy and high quality Wales-based cancer research will underpin the single cancer pathway; supporting transformed, improving cancer services for the people of Wales affected by cancer.”
“However, my feelings towards today’s single cancer pathway news are tempered by the drop in the number of people coming forward to talk to their GP about cancer signs and symptoms. The earlier a cancer is diagnosed the better the outcome for the person affected.”
“People have kept their distance out of fear of burdening the NHS, or out of a concern for catching coronavirus. The NHS across Wales has taken a number of steps to ensure you are able to speak to or visit your doctor as safely as possible.”
“Covid has stopped many things from happening but it hasn’t stopped cancer – if people suspect that they may have sign and symptoms of cancer they should talk to their GP immediately.”