Cancer waiting times concerns after target missed again

Written by Tom Freeman on 27 September 2017 in News

Only three health boards meet target of 95 per cent of cancer referrals seen within 62 days

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Only three health boards in Scotland have met a target to have 95 per cent of people suspected of having cancer being treated within 62 days.

Across the country 86.9 per cent of patients were seen within the time limit during the last quarter, despite the referral being classed as urgent.

Only Dumfries and Galloway, Orkney and Lanarkshire recorded more than 95 per cent of cancer patients seen with 62 days.


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The last time the target was met was in 2012.

Health Secretary Shona Robison announced a new £1m clinical delivery group to tackle the issue, which will meet in October.

“The average wait for cancer treatment is 6 days currently,” she said.

“However, some waits are too long and the new delivery group will report back to me in early 2018 with recommendations to enhance cancer diagnosis and treatment going forward.”

Gregor McNie, Cancer Research UK’s senior public affairs manager in Scotland, said: “It’s clear some patients in Scotland are still waiting far too long for diagnosis and treatment which is a worrying and familiar picture.

“An early diagnosis, followed by speedy treatment, improves a patient’s chances of beating the disease and these targets can help bring about that earlier diagnosis.

“There is variation in the performance between some Health Board areas, and it’s concerning to see differences in how long patients may expect to be seen in different parts of the country.

“We need to see decisive action soon and we hope the ongoing review of cancer waiting times will make bold recommendations for the future.”

Scottish Conservative shadow health secretary Miles Briggs said: “There’s no point in constantly publicising the importance of checking out cancer fears at an early stage if the NHS isn’t well sufficiently resourced to hold up its end of the deal.”

Scottish Liberal Democrat health spokesperson Alex Cole-Hamilton said: “The need for the Scottish Government to meet these targets could not be clearer - early diagnosis and treatment saves lives.

“Now we are seeing targets missed by an even wider margin, the Scottish Government cannot continue to sit back and must provide the NHS with the resources they need to be able to turn this around.”

The stats also revealed 94 per cent who had received care reported a positive experience.

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