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Single cancer waiting times target set for NHS Wales

Single cancer waiting times target set for NHS Wales
From BBC - November 22, 2017

The current cancer waiting times targets in Wales could end up being scrapped under plans to be announced later by the Welsh health secretary.

Patients follow one of two routes to treatment depending on how a cancer is found - each with a separate waiting time target.

But there are concerns that the system does not accurately reflect how long some patients are actually waiting.

It is argued a single treatment route and target could deliver better care.

All health boards from January will begin to measure performance against a new "single cancer pathway", so waiting times for all cancer patients can be measured in the same way, Vaughan Gething will announce in a speech to the Wales Cancer Conference in Cardiff later.

But the existing targets will continue to be published in parallel until a final decision is made.

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The move, which has been under consideration for many years, is being welcomed by cancer experts and charities.

However, three years ago, when the single pathway was first trialled, opposition parties claimed it was an attempt by the Welsh Government to "move the goal posts" and "change targets it could not meet".

This is how things work:

The 62-day target has not been met on an all-Wales basis since 2008 - and latest figures published today are down on the previous month - but the Welsh NHS has had more success in achieving the 31-day target.

Overall, performance on cancer waiting times has remained stable in recent years despite an estimated 1.5% a year increase in demand for cancer care.

However, Mr Gething conceded that, despite some improvement, the NHS has not met the existing targets often enough.

If the new system works, Mr Gething said the "ambition" would be to replace the current 62 and 31-day targets with a single cancer waiting time target - although it is not clear yet what it will be.

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