Explore every option for cancer surgeries

SDLP Health Spokesperson Cara Hunter has called on the Department of Health and Trusts to exhaust every avenue possible to ensure no further cancer surgeries are cancelled due to pressures from the coronavirus pandemic.

She urged the Department of Health to work with Trusts to reschedule cancelled surgeries as soon as possible.

The East Derry MLA said: “We are so frustrated that patients who are suffering from cancer have had potentially life-saving surgeries cancelled at the last minute. It is hard to imagine the impact this has on patients, who are already struggling with illness, and their families. Having major surgery is a daunting experience for many and to build yourself up mentally for it only to be told it is not taking place is a devastating blow.

“I appealed to health officials to find some way to facilitate these surgeries taking place, even in another trust area or part of these islands. With an illness like cancer, treatment times can make all the difference and every avenue should be exhausted before a decision to cancel a surgery is made.

“I would urge everyone who has not yet received their Covid-19 vaccine to do so. Health officials have stated that it is the best way to reduce pressures on our health service and avoid situations where important procedures need to be cancelled.

“I know our health service and our amazing staff are doing their best to cope at the minute with unprecedented pressures, but many of the problems we are currently experiencing were an issue before the pandemic. Long waiting lists for treatment did not appear overnight.

“The issues around cancer surgeries need dealt with as a matter of utmost importance but we also need to see the recovery plans from the Department of Health, properly funded by the Department of Finance, come to fruition to transform our health service and ensure that we never find ourselves in this position again.”