Page last updated at 15:53 GMT, Tuesday, 10 June 2008 16:53 UK

Cancer treatment waiting time cut

Altnagelvin Hospital
The minister was speaking at Altnagelvin Hospital

Waiting times for people needing cancer treatment in NI have been cut.

Michael McGimpsey has announced all trusts have achieved government targets for the length of time a cancer patient should wait for treatment to start.

The health minister was speaking during a visit to Altnagelvin Hospital in Londonderry on Tuesday morning.

"I am pleased that such excellent progress is being made to benefit people at a very worrying time in their lives," Mr McGimpsey said.

"On the basis of provisional monitoring information, I am pleased to announce that the challenging targets set last year to reduce waiting times for cancer diagnosis and treatment have been achieved."

He said that in March 2008, 98% of patients diagnosed with cancer began treatment within a maximum of 31 days of the date of their diagnosis.

More than 80% of patients with suspected cancer who were referred urgently by a GP and subsequently diagnosed with the disease began their first definitive treatment within a maximum of 62 days - exceeding the target of 75%.

"Furthermore, anyone requiring an urgent examination for suspected breast cancer is being seen at a specialist breast clinic within 14 days of referral," Mr McGimpsey said

The minister added that he had set a new target to ensure further improvement.

By March 2009, 95% of patients referred with a suspected cancer and subsequently diagnosed with cancer should commence treatment within 62 days.

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