The SNP have been told current cancer treatment delays are shameful
As the SNP’s management of the NHS continues to face criticism, hundreds did not receive cancer treatment within 62 days of their “urgent referral”, despite the health service being obliged to meet that target under Government rules.
The statistics for the past three months of 2016, published yesterday, confirmed that it was the fourth year in a row that the NHS has missed the waiting times standard.
Cancer charities and opposition politicians branded the situation “utterly shameful” and said it was “absolutely critical” that Nicola Sturgeon’s administration deliver improvements soon.
The statistics from NHS Scotland showed just 87.5 per cent of patients were seen within 62 days in the three months to December – significantly short of the 95 per cent target.
Just five of the country’s 14 health boards met the standard, with the worst performer being NHS Western Isles, where only 66.7 per cent of patients were seen on time.
One cancer sufferer in Fife experienced the longest wait, 309 days – a massive increase on the maximum waits of 242, 223, and 214 days recorded during the previous three quarters. Another patient under the care of NHS Highland waited 302 days and one in Greater Glasgow and Clyde 251 days.
Overall, 408 patients waited more than 62 days between their referral and initial treatment.
Speedy diagnosis and access to treatment is key
Gregor McNie, Cancer Research UK
Meanwhile, a separate target – ensuring that 95 per cent of patients wait no longer than 31 days from decision to treat to their first cancer treatment – was also missed.
Gregor McNie, public affairs manager of Cancer Research UK in Scotland, said: “These latest figures show once again a worrying picture, with many patients still waiting an unacceptably long time.
“Speedy diagnosis and access to treatment is key to someone’s chances of survival so it’s absolutely critical we see improvements soon.”
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Sturgeon was left speechless after she was sensationally told to “sit down” by Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson during a fiery debate in Scottish Parliament
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Janice Preston, head of Macmillan in Scotland, said: “Delayed diagnosis and treatment make the cancer journey even more difficult.”
Labour’s health spokesman Anas Sarwar said: “These figures are utterly shameful – they show that, for four years, the SNP have failed families across the country and the performance is getting worse.”
Conservative Donald Cameron added: “The SNP should be doing everything it can to ensure more patients are being seen within the target timescale.
“Instead, they’ve let standards slide and, as a result, thousands are not receiving the treatment that they need when they need it. The SNP has badly let down patients and it is time they got back to the day job.”
Liberal Democrats’ Alex Cole-Hamilton branded the situation a “disgrace” and said: “It is simply not fair that patients and their loved ones are being caused unnecessary anxiety and pain.”
Scottish patients are waiting up to 10 months for treatment, early five times NHS targets
Health Secretary Shona Robison said performance on the 62-day standard had improved slightly, from 87.1 per cent in the previous three months but conceded: “Clearly, we want to do more to ensure that our targets are met.”
The figures emerged as separate statistics revealed that there are 6,000 fewer hospital beds in Scotland than when the SNP took office in 2007.