Upper Bann MP Carla Lockhart has written to the Health Minister Robin Swann MLA to stress the urgent need for cancer services to return to normal in order to save lives across Northern Ireland.
Carla Lockhart MP said:
“82,000 people in Northern Ireland are today living with cancer. That is the number of confirmed cases, with more undoubtedly living with the disease as yet without a diagnosis.
That represents 82,000 people whose life is at risk from this awful disease. 82,000 families living with the uncertainty of what loved ones face in the days and weeks ahead.
With the reduction in the number of COVID-19 cases across Northern Ireland, there is no valid reason why cancer patients should not be prioritised and a return made to the diagnostic and treatment programmes they need. From speaking to nurses involved in cancer care they say it has never been quieter in some cancer wards. Surely now this must be looked at. A cancer patient should not be treated as second class to a COVID-19 patient. Sadly, both kill and leave families shattered with loss and grief.
The Department has said that this will be looked at in the “coming weeks”. Quite simply, an open ended deadline like that is not good enough. Macmillan has rightly called for a timetable to be outlined and I echo that call. Every day this is delayed worsens the prognosis of cancer patients. This should be a matter of utmost priority for the Minister and his officials and I would urge him to address these very valid concerns immediately.”