Posted: Thu 30th Nov 2023

Wales faces systemic failure of cancer care, warns leading charity for people living in or visiting the Wrexham area
This article is old - Published: Thursday, Nov 30th, 2023

Wales faces a “systemic failure” of cancer care, a leading charity has warned.

The comments, by Macmillan Cancer Support, come after Wales saw its biggest monthly decline in cancer waiting times performance since April 2022

In September just 52.9 per cent of people with cancer started their first definitive treatment within 62 days.

The figure is 4.4 percentage points lower than the previous month and 2.4 percentage points lower than September 2022.

This left almost one in two people with cancer – more than 800 people – during that one month alone facing delays in what could be lifesaving treatment and care.

In the same month 1,706 pathways where the patient was newly diagnosed with cancer started their first definitive treatment in the month.

This was a decrease of 3.3% compared to the previous month.

Performance also varied between cancer types. For example just 31.9 per cent of people with head and neck and 33 per cent of people with lower gastrointestinal cancer started their treatment on time.

Now the charity is warning that the current trajectory means Wales is not only moving ever further away from its existing national targets, but also the Welsh Government’s firm commitment to treating 80 per cent of people with cancer on time by 2026.

The interim recovery target that cancer diagnosis and treatment would be undertaken within 62 days for 70 per cent of people by March 2023 has already been missed.

According to Macmillan such delays mean that people with cancer are being subjected to needless anxiety, and the fear that their condition will worsen as they wait for their treatment to begin.

Glenn Page, Macmillan Policy Manager for Wales, said: “Today’s figures show the biggest monthly decline in cancer waiting times performance since April 2022, which was the same month the Welsh Government published their plan to transform care and a promise to reduce waiting lists.

“Performance has declined in every region of Wales, and this systemic failure calls into question how the Welsh Government will achieve its commitment of treating 80% of people with cancer on time by 2026.

“The reality is that half of people with cancer in Wales experience delays in what for some could be life-saving care.

“The worry is that these figures will only worsen further in the coming months, as the additional pressures expected over the winter period begin to be felt, leaving more people to face anxious waits for the care they so desperately need.”

Macmillan continues to do everything its can to help anyone with cancer and their loved ones. For advice, information or a chat, people can call 0808 808 0000 or visit

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