In February 800 cancer patients in Wales missed their treatment target, becoming the second-worst month on record for wait times.

Macmillan Cancer Support charity calls on the new first minister to ‘take action’ on the promised Cancer Improvement Plan by giving the NHS the resources they need to get wait times down.

The Welsh government has set a 62-day target from when the cancer is first detected to starting treatment, however this target has never once been met since it was introduced and 2023 was found to be the worst year on record for cancer treatment wait times in Wales.

Glenn Page, Policy and Public Affairs Manager at Macmillan Cancer Support, said: “Once again Wales’ cancer treatment target has been missed, with hundreds of people with cancer being left to face the anxiety of what, for some, could potentially be life-threatening delays to their treatment. 

“Improving cancer treatment waiting times and reducing waiting lists is now set to become a true litmus test of the leadership provided by Wales’ new First Minister. 

“Hardworking healthcare professionals in Wales are running on empty, doing everything they can in a system that needs urgent reform.

“This can’t go on. It’s time the Welsh government made good on the promises of its Cancer Improvement Plan by delivering real change and improvement within cancer care.”

In February 47 per cent of cancer patients who started treatment started beyond the 62-day target, having dropped for two months in a row.

Many suggest the impact the pandemic had on the healthcare system is to blame for the massive wait times seen, not just for cancer patients.

For all illnesses, people in Wales are 60 per cent more likely to be on waiting lists than those in England according to NHS statistics from August 2023.

In response to Macmillan’s data, a Welsh Government spokesperson said: “Access to cancer treatment is a priority and clinical teams and managers across the NHS in Wales are working hard to improve cancer performances.

“We are seeing year-on-year increases in demand for cancer investigation and we are investing heavily in cancer services to improve diagnosis and provide rapid access to high-quality care.

“We have launched a national intervention to support recovery in waiting times for cancers with the lowest cancer performance.” If you or someone you love is affected by cancer. Call Macmillan’s free Support Line on 0808 808 00 00, open every day, 8am to 8pm.