Months-long wait for radiotherapy at Inverness hospital
BBC Scotland has discovered that some NHS Highland cancer patients are waiting up to 15 weeks for radiotherapy after cancer surgery.
Due to a loophole in the Scottish government's waiting time targets for treatment following diagnosis, the wait for radiotherapy is not recorded.
NHS Highland said it was meeting government waiting time targets.
It said there was no target time for follow-up treatment, but was making progress on waits for this.
The Scottish government guarantees that cancer patients will be treated within 31 days of diagnosis, but this guarantee only covers the period until a patient has had surgery.
Some patients at Raigmore hospital in Inverness are waiting 15 weeks for radiotherapy after their surgery has taken place.
A spokesperson for NHS Highland said: "There is no target time for this follow up treatment but all patients are treated on the basis of clinical urgency."
They added: "We are aware we have an issue with capacity in oncology and plans are in place to progress that."
Cancer patients in England benefit from stricter political targets which cover not only first appointments, but subsequent ones.'Best chance'
Last year 98% of patients were given radiotherapy within 31 days of surgery.
NHS Highland was unable to say how many people were waiting more than 31 days for post-surgical radiotherapy.
However, the health board said it did "measure and monitor" this and would be able to provide "accurate information" by next week.
Every patient pathway is managed on a case by case basis and every effort is made to minimise delays. Any delays are studied in detail to understand why it happened and what appropriate action can be taken where possible. To do this we have a detailed cancer audit.
End Quote Scottish government spokesman
Our cancer waiting times standards cover first treatments for cancer, and always have done”
Cancer charities contacted said that such a long wait would add significantly to the stress and anxiety experienced by people recovering from cancer.
Challenge Breast Cancer Scotland said that it was "surprised" that cancer targets didn't include radiotherapy and chemotherapy after surgery.
The Scottish government said: "Our cancer waiting times standards cover first treatments for cancer, and always have done.
"Some patients might need supplementary treatment - that's 'supplementary' treatment to give the 'primary' treatment the best chance of working.
"Decisions on when to start these follow-up treatments are taken by doctors and are covered by clinical guidelines. This treatment will be different for individual patients' clinical conditions."
Earlier this week, BBC Scotland revealed that hundreds of patients were waiting up to eight months for a scan in Aberdeen.
They were not included in the Scottish government's guarantee to treat patients within 18 weeks because they had been referred by a GP rather than a consultant.
The Scottish government has met with NHS Grampian and offered additional funding of £150,000.
NHS Grampian said patients would also be offered appointments at the Golden Jubilee Hospital in Clydebank.
BBC Scotland's health correspondent is also happy to investigate individual cases. You can contact her at email@example.com