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'One in four' cancer patients in Denmark not treated within recommended time

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Ritzau/The Local - [email protected]
'One in four' cancer patients in Denmark not treated within recommended time
Illustration photo of Copenhagen's Rigshospitalet. Health Minister Sophie Løhde has said heavy spending will be needed to bring down cancer treatment times nationally. Photo: Ida Marie Odgaard/Ritzau Scanpix

Over one in four patients under hospital care for cancer did not receive treatment within recommended timeframes last year, according to health authorities.

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A report published by the Danish Health Data Authority (Sundhedsdatastyrelsen) on Monday states that over a quarter of patients receiving treatment for cancer were not treated within health authority time limits termed forløbstid in 2022.

That means that health authority guidelines for the minimum amount of time under treatment were not met for those patients. The time limits are not set by law.

Some 74 percent of patients were treated within the timeframe set in the guidelines. The proportion is the lowest since 2014. In 2021 it stood at 76 percent, while it was 80 percent three years ago.

Health Minister Sophie Løhde called the extended waiting times for an increasing number of cancer patients “unacceptable”.

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“When I became minister in December I knew that the health system was under strain after the corona pandemic and nurses’ strike, but it was my clear conviction that we could take care of life-threatening diseases,” she told newspaper Jyllands-Posten.

Long and short-term plans for cancer care in Denmark will be presented by the health ministry this week, she told the newspaper.

READ ALSO: What exactly is wrong with the Danish health system?

“We need to delve into our pockets and we will be needing a big purse,” she said.

The data agency figures show regional variations in the speed at which patients move through the cancer treatment process.

The North Jutland region saw 80 percent receive treatment within recommended time limits, with the Zealand health authority at 65 percent.

In March, it emerged that 313 bowel cancer patients at Aarhus University Hospital waited too long for an operation over a period spanning from January 2022 to February this year. The patients in question were entitled by law to an operation within two weeks of the decision to operate.

It is possible to exceed the health authority guidelines for treatment time while remaining within the legal, politically-set limit for operation.

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