Access to cancer treatment

Implementation of new cancer strategy underway

The implementation of Scotland’s £100 million cancer strategy will drive improvements in access to cancer care, Health Secretary Shona Robison said today.

The strategy, which was launched in March and is starting to be implemented this year, will invest in the prevention, detection, diagnosis, treatment and aftercare for cancer patients – as well improving treatment waiting times.

Immediate actions being taken forward include the investment of £3 million in 2016/17 to improve access to diagnostics, including the provision of new scopes and radiology investigations for suspected cancer patients.

Latest ISD figures published today show, between January and March 2016, 90.2% of patients started treatment from first referral within the 62 day standard and 94.9% of patients began treatment from diagnosis within the 31 day standard.

The median wait for a patient from a doctor’s decision to treat to them beginning treatment is six days. The 31 day standard was met for all tumour groups except urological cancer.

Ms Robison today said as well as implementing the cancer strategy, the Government has been working with NHS boards to develop an action plan for urological cancer care.

She said: “It is vital that we treat cancer as quickly as possible and that’s why we have set rigorous standards in this area. Under this Government, cancer waiting times have improved dramatically and overall cancer death rates have dropped by 11% in the last 10 years.

“The figures published today also show that once a decision has been made for a patient to receive treatment, the median wait for this is less than a week.

“However, further improvements need to be made to ensure that everybody in Scotland - no matter where they live or what type of cancer they have – are able to get timely access to cancer diagnostics and treatment.

“Our cancer strategy is taking this forward and we are committing £100 million to ensuring it is a success. This year, £3 million will be invested immediately in diagnostics to improve access to this part of the cancer pathway.

“We also know that improvements are needed to urological cancer services in Scotland and that is why an improvement plan is being developed with health boards. This includes improving capacity and the provision of robotic assisted surgery for prostate cancers - which will be introduced in NHS Lothian by the end of 2016.”

Notes to editors

The latest cancer waiting times statistics can be viewed on the ISD Scotland website:


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