Despite having the best in Wales, Betsi Cadwaladr say their cancer waiting times are way off where they want to be.

Recent data shows that in May of this year, only 53% of cancer patients started their treatment within 62 days – well below Wales’ national target of treating 75% of people on time.

This is the joint worst data on record and repeats a low first seen in January.

With May also being one of the busiest months on record, and well above the pre-pandemic average, Macmillan Cancer Support is warning that despite the best efforts of hard-working NHS staff, Wales’ cancer care system is now failing to keep up with demand for life-saving cancer treatments.

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Richard Pugh, Head of Partnerships for Macmillan Cancer Support in Wales said: “In just one month alone we have seen well over 700 people with cancer being left to face anxious delays, delays which could have an impact on the success of their treatment.

“Almost one in two people with cancer in Wales now face delays. 

“For far too long, and well before this pandemic began, there has been a trend of consistent under performance on meeting cancer treatment targets in Wales and this worsening trend shows how vitally important it is to put things right."

Despite Betsi Cadwaladr having the best percentage of waiting times in Wales, they admit there is still room for improvement.

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Gill Harris, Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board’s deputy CEO and executive director of integrated care, said: “We currently have the highest percentage of patients being treated within the 62-day window in Wales.

“However this is still well below where we want referral to treatment times to be, so we have set up a number of initiatives to try and speed up our processes.

“We have started, or are in the process of establishing a number of rapid diagnostic clinics, which bring clinicians from a variety of services into one place – hopefully reducing the number of visits for patients and the time it takes for treatments to start."

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She added: “All this is against the backdrop of an older population than the Wales average and a backlog of a higher number of patients, presenting with more advanced disease, due to the effects of the pandemic.

“Covid still continues to affect us and we are still suffering staff shortages because of it. This puts an extra burden on those professionals, clinical or otherwise, who have to cover.

“I want to praise our staff for their continued hard work and their collaboration when trying to improve the lives of people with cancer in North Wales.”

Information on the latest cancer figures can be found at Stats Wales and for more information about Macmillan, visit