Action on diagnostics

Steps to shorten waits for endoscopy.

Urgent action is being taken to cut the number of people across Scotland waiting for diagnostic testing by over twenty per cent by the end of September.

The Scottish Government has committed an additional £6 million to aid health boards across the country to see 2,500 people waiting for endoscopies with a focus on ensuring the most urgent patients, including those with suspected cancer, continue to be prioritised.

Health Secretary Shona Robison has announced an action plan, with total funding of £14 million, to ensure that those who have been waiting for more than six weeks are seen as a matter of urgency.

Ms Robison said:

“This funding will ensure the most critical suspected cancer patients are seen almost immediately, and our new endoscopy action plan places even more scrutiny on boards to assure us that they are seeing all who need these services.

“We’re targeting the funding to where it is most needed, and I expect the number of people waiting to be reduced by at least 2,500 by September, and 5,000 by December.

“This plan includes additional funding to ensure patients are getting the most suitable clinical option for their diagnostics. We will also be increasing workforce training to provide more specialist endoscopy nurses across the NHS in Scotland in the longer term.

“And by doing this, we will free up capacity to allow the most urgent cases to be seen even more quickly, supported by our hardworking clinicians, and ensure we can strengthen resilience and sustainability across the whole system going forward.”

Consultant Juliette Murray, Clinical Lead for the Access Collaborative, said:

“This Scottish Government action plan and investment is an important step in building capacity and resilience for diagnostics across the health system.

“It is focused on patient safety, patient choice, and best clinical and administrative practices and will prioritise patients who require investigations and save patients unnecessary procedures. 

“The work also being done to develop sustainable, long term solutions means the funding will make a fundamental difference for the future.”

Gregor McNie, Head of External Affairs at Cancer Research UK said:

“Endoscopy is crucial to diagnose cancer so we’re very pleased to see this action plan. Demand for scopes is increasing so starting to address staff shortages now with a review of the workforce is very welcome. We look forward to working closely to make sure this action plan is a success. It could mean that the NHS in Scotland can diagnose more cancers at an earlier stage and save more lives in future.”

Deborah Alsina MBE, Chief Executive of Bowel Cancer UK and Beating Bowel Cancer, says:

“We warmly welcome the Scottish Government’s commitment to addressing current workforce and delivery issues for endoscopy services through the new action plan and look forward to reviewing it in detail. Nearly everyone survives bowel cancer if it is detected early but this drops significantly as the disease progresses. It is therefore essential that people gain timely access to endoscopy tests, such as a colonoscopy, so that bowel cancer can be detected quickly or ruled out. 

“We look forward to working closely with the Scottish Government on the implementation of the new endoscopy action plan and to supporting the work of the new Clinical Diagnostic Lead to ensure timely high quality care for all patients across Scotland.”


Total funding for the action plan is £14 million:

  • £6 million is new and previously unannounced.
  • £2.5 million is cancer strategy money that is being allocated to boards to target scopes for urgent suspected cancer patients.
  • £5.5 million is previously announced consequential funding already allocated to Boards, who are now targeting this resource to endoscopy.


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