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Hundreds wait more than 2 months for urgent cancer treatment to start

Hundreds of patients across Scotland have been forced to wait more than two months for cancer treatment to begin, despite being urgently referred by a medic.

ISD Scotland figures showed that 86.9 per cent of people were seen to within 62 days, the worst since figures for the standard began in 2012.

Health boards have a target of seeing 95 per cent of patients in that timeframe, yet in some parts of mainland Scotland nearly one in five had to wait longer.

Today’s figures cover from April to June this year, during which 3493 were urgently referred after a suspicion of cancer was detected.

Of those, only 3034 were treated within 62 days, the figures show.

Shadow health secretary Miles Briggs said the performance was indicative of a staffing and resource crisis across the whole NHS.

He blamed the SNP’s disastrous workforce planning, which has seen recent vacancy rates among nurses and consultants increase to the highest ever.

He also pointed to a crisis within radiology north of the border, which last month culminated in staff sending x-rays to Australia to be analysed due to a lack of resources here.

Scottish Conservative shadow health secretary Miles Briggs said:

“It’s inexcusable for so many people who’ve been urgently referred on suspicion of cancer to wait more than two months.

“Not only will these patients and their families be beside themselves with worry in this period, but with every day that goes past their chances of a good prognosis deteriorate.

“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.

“This is completely on the SNP’s head.

“It’s had full charge of the NHS for a decade, and now this performance has slipped to such an unacceptable low, it’s time for a proper apology from the nationalists.

“The SNP has also been well-warned about a crisis in radiography but is failing to act.

“That failure results in shocking statistics like this.”


Notes to editors:

To see the full report, visit:

Below is the rate of patients treated within 62 days from an urgent referral with suspicion of cancer to first cancer treatment. The target is 95 per cent:

NHS Ayrshire and Arran – 88.5 per cent
NHS Borders – 92.3 per cent
NHS Dumfries and Galloway – 95.8 per cent
NHS Fife – 92.7 per cent
NHS Forth Valley – 81.1 per cent
NHS Grampian – 82.3 per cent
NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde – 84 per cent
NHS Highland – 83.4 per cent
NHS Lanarkshire – 96.5 per cent
NHS Lothian – 88.3 per cent
NHS Orkney – 100 per cent
NHS Shetland – 88.9 per cent
NHS Tayside – 88.1 per cent
NHS Western Isles – 64.7 per cent

Scotland total – 86.9 per cent

It was reported last month that radiologists were sending x-rays to Australia for analysis:

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