Letter: Statistics, not examples, needed

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The Independent Online
Sir: Carole Tongue, MEP, makes a grave accusation, claiming that the NHS reforms have been 'seriously worsening the condition of cancer sufferers' (letter, 17 September). In supporting this, she describes in some detail a patient whose care has clearly been less than satisfactory.

It is easy to highlight unfortunate cases, which undoubtedly occur from time to time in any large organisation. It would be equally misleading to quote cases where treatment has been both prompt and exceptional and suggest that this is the norm. What really matter are measurements of general performance.

Ms Tongue should therefore be challenged to present firm data, not just opinion, supporting her contention that cancer sufferers wait longer for treatment or have a worse outcome in the NHS of 1994, than those of 1984. Unless she can do so, her accusations should be withdrawn and cancer sufferers reassured.

Yours faithfully,


Consultant Surgeon

University Hospital of Wales


19 September