Ulster Unionist MLA Robbie Butler says ‘distress, panic and concern’ lie behind the latest cancer waitng time statistics.
The Lagan Valley MLA, a member of Stormont’s Health Committee, said: “This latest publication of waiting times is once again difficult reading.
“Behind the blunt statistics lies a story of human distress, panic and concern.
“Cancer is a cruel disease and a diagnosis, or a suspicion of it, can come as a devastating blow to patients and their families.
“The sooner it is detected and treatment begins, the better the chance patients have of a successful outcome.”
He said the latest cancer waiting time data were a cause for serious concern.
“Therefore, the revelation that compared to the target of 95 per cent, only 63.6 per cent of patients in September commenced first treatment within 62 days following an urgent referral for suspect cancer is frightening.
“What really makes the current situation wholly unacceptable is the revelation that of all the patients waiting longer than 62 days for treatment in September 2016, over 30% were diagnosed with urological cancer and nearly 20% were diagnosed with skin cancer.
“It is unbelievable that in 2017 we are still urging the Minister to better focus her efforts on cancer prevention, early detection and timely treatment.”