Cancer waiting time target missed in Wales despite pledge

By James Williams BBC News Wales 29th May 2013:

“Waiting time targets for urgent cancer cases in Wales are still being missed, despite a pledge they would be met by March. The Welsh government target is for 95% of patients to see a specialist in 62 days, but the latest figure is 84%. Abertawe Bro Morgannwg University Health Board had 69.9% of patients start treatment in time while Aneurin Bevan achieved 98%. The Welsh government said most patients are seen within the target…..”

Most patients means over 50% – is that good enough? The problem with cancer is that it is so diverse, and whilst target groups which have had lots of money like breast cancer do well, rarer cancers like thyroid or kidney have much more variable courses – they are not in specific target groups. If we rationed out high volume cheap services (paracetamol) we would have more money to ensure all cancers were treated quickly. It is pertinent that Wales does not have choice. I doubt if the trusts which fail to meet the targets are offering their patients alternatives, as in England.

The politicians need to answer this question. “Are there any services which are so cheap that they feel all patients, whatever their circumstances, should pay for?” If there are, then at what level of finance? My opening suggestion is equivalent to two pints of beer and a packet of 20 cigarettes, which would of course increase with inflation!

This entry was posted in A Personal View, Patient representatives, Rationing, Stories in the Media on by .

About Roger Burns - retired GP

I am a retired GP and medical educator. I have supported patient participation throughout my career, and my practice, St Thomas; Surgery, has had a longstanding and active Patient Participation Group (PPG). I support the idea of Community Health Councils, although I feel they should be funded at arms length from government. I have taught GP trainees for 30 years, and been a Programme Director for GP training in Pembrokeshire 20 years. I served on the Pembrokeshire LHG and LHB for a total of 10 years. I completed an MBA in 1996, and I along with most others, never had an exit interview from any job in the NHS! I completed an MBA in 1996, and was a runner up for the Adam Smith prize for economy and efficiency in government in that year. This was owing to a suggestion (St Thomas' Mutual) that practices had incentives for saving by being allowed to buy rationed out services in the following year.

1 thought on “Cancer waiting time target missed in Wales despite pledge

  1. John D

    The problem with targets is that in most cases they only give a crude measure of performance and usually only tell part of the story. What is not revealed is how long the patients who missed the target had to wait for their treatment to start. Then of course there is the type of treatment – is it the best that is available for the situation? Take as an example the most common cancer affecting men in the UK – prostate cancer. The NHS Choices website mentions over ten interventions. Would the same patient be offered the same intervention no matter where they lived in the UK – I think not.


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