Improving cancer waiting times

£10 million allocated to speed up cancer services.

Cancer patients are set for faster access to treatment as an additional £10 million has been allocated to help improve waiting times.

The new money, to be shared among the health boards, will boost the number of operations available, creating extra clinics, and upskilling new staff to speed up the delivery of endoscopy, radiology and chemotherapy treatment to get patients the care they need as quickly as possible.

This builds on the Scottish Government’s £114.5 million National Cancer Plan, to support patients and deliver equal access to care across the country that means anyone can access the best standard of care despite their location or background.

This extra cash is on top of the £10 million that was allocated to Health Boards last year (2020-21) to support the running of cancer services in the face of the pandemic. This delivered new healthcare staff, additional weekend clinics and operations for the areas that need it most and helped create a brand new Urological Diagnostic Hub in NHS Highland that is already showing signs of improved waiting times.

Health Secretary Humza Yousaf announced the fund while visiting NHS Forth Valley’s Breast Cancer One-Stop Clinic, which has been funded by this scheme. This modernised service, provided  diagnostics for more than 5,000 additional breast patients from out-with NHS Forth Valley during the pandemic and continues to see and treat 80-100 new patient referrals each week from the local area. 

Mr Yousaf said: “Despite the challenges of the pandemic, NHS Scotland has consistently met the 31-day standard for starting cancer treatment with an average wait of four days once a decision to treat has been made – that’s testament to the relentless efforts of our fantastic healthcare staff across the country. However we must to more to improve our 62-day performance.

“Covid has not gone away and pressures remain, which is why we are providing health boards with a £10 million cash boost to drive down waiting times so that cancer patients can receive the best care as early as possible.”


There are two waiting time standards for cancer in Scotland. The 62-day standard is the time taken from receipt of urgent suspicion of cancer (USC) referral to start of first treatment for newly diagnosed primary cancers . Patients can be urgently referred by a primary care clinician or general dental physician;  referred through a national cancer screening programme; direct referral to hospital where the signs and symptoms are consistent with the cancer diagnosed in line with the Scottish Referral Guidelines for example self-referral to A&E.

The 31-day standard is from the decision to treat to start of first treatment for newly diagnosed primary cancers, regardless of route of referral.

Latest published Cancer Waiting Times

The National Cancer Plan details how cancer services will be redesigned to benefit patients and increase resilience to future rises in COVID-19 prevalence.


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