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by Tom Freeman
18 January 2019
Cancer strategy progress 'held back by staffing issues'

Cancer immunology - fotolia

Cancer strategy progress 'held back by staffing issues'

The Scottish Government’s £100m cancer strategy is being undermined by challenges in recruiting and retaining staff, a group of MSPs has warned.

The Scottish Parliament’s Cross-Party Group (CPG) on Cancer has published a report into the cancer strategy, two years into its five-year timescale.

The report concludes £100m funding to get more cancers diagnosed and treated quicker, is being slowed down due to a lack of NHS staff available to deliver crucial tests for patients.

The strategy was published in 2016 and listed staff training as one of its priorities but staff shortages in NHS Scotland requires “urgent action”, according to the report.

Around 32,000 people in Scotland are diagnosed with cancer each year, and the figure is expected to rise as people live longer into old age.

The CPG is chaired by MSPs Miles Briggs and Anas Sarwar.

Sarwar said: “This report must serve as an urgent wake-up call for the Scottish Government.

“The laudable aims of the Cancer Strategy simply can’t be delivered unless the staffing crisis in our NHS is addressed.”

Briggs said: “While there has been welcome progress in the implementation of the Cancer Strategy in a number of areas, this report highlights that there is still significant action that is needed to ensure the strategy is fully implemented by March 2021.”

During First Ministers Questions yesterday Nicola Sturgeon confirmed health secretary Jeane Freeman met with representatives from the Scottish cancer coalition to discuss ways to move forward.

A Scottish Government spokesman said: “As the cross-party group’s report recognises, 87 per cent of the actions in the strategy have either been completed or are on track.

“We recognise there can be challenges in recruiting the right specialist staff for some services.

“That’s why the Scottish Cancer Taskforce is feeding into the development of the Scottish Government Integrated Workforce Plan.”

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