Scottish NHS boards miss cancer waiting target

Nurse holding patients hand Image copyright Thinkstock
Image caption The health secretary said the Scottish government was committed to publishing a new cancer strategy by spring 2016

Ten of Scotland's health boards have missed a target for treating cancer patients within 62 days of referral.

In the period from July to September, four boards hit the standard for getting at least 95% of suspected patients their first treatment within that time limit.

The national picture showed nine out of 10 patients (90%) started treatment within the 62 days.

This was a reduction on 92.1% in the previous quarter.

In the latest quarter, NHS Grampian, Highland, Orkney, Shetland, Tayside, Western Isles, Fife, Lothian, Ayrshire and Arran and Greater Glasgow and Clyde fell below the standard.

A second standard to ensure 95% of all patients wait a maximum 31 days from decision to treat to their first treatment was reached.

At 95.2%, it was a fall on the previous three months when it was 96.3%.

New strategy

Scottish Health Secretary Shona Robison said: "It is vital that we treat cancer as quickly as possible and that's why we have set rigorous standards in this area.

"I am pleased to see that the 31-day standard continues to be met and that the average wait is only seven days once a decision has been made to treat.

"Over the last few years, cancer services have developed and improved significantly with more doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals and state-of-the-art equipment in all five of Scotland's cancer centres.

"Overall cancer death rates have dropped by 11% over the past 10 years and the overall cancer mortality rate for 2014 is the lowest over the past decade."

Ms Robison said the Scottish government was committed to publishing a new cancer strategy by spring 2016, which will include further investment in cancer services.

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