Investment for cancer services.

New Action Plan for the recovery and redesign of cancer care.

A planned investment of up to £114.5 million will ensure cancer patients continue to have equitable access to care in NHS Scotland regardless of where they live.

The Cancer Recovery Plan will improve patients’ experience of care, and will roll-out innovative treatments – many of which have been expedited by the pandemic -  to improve cancer services.

A total of 68 actions will be driven forward across five themes to both redesign cancer services and increase NHS Scotland’s overall resilience to any future rises in coronavirus (COVID-19) prevalence.

The actions will be rolled out before March 2023 and will include:

  • two new Early Cancer Diagnostic Centres, established within the existing NHS infrastructure by Spring 2021
  • a programme of “Prehabilitation” helping patients prepare for treatment
  • a single point of contact for cancer patients to support them throughout their diagnosis and treatment   
  • a resource dedicated to the national oversight of clinical management guidelines

Health Secretary Jeane Freeman said:

“Patients are at the heart of this plan and their safety and that of our NHS staff will continue to be our priority.

“I would like to thank healthcare staff, the Scottish Cancer Coalition and other partners for their contributions to the plan and their continued help in supporting cancer patients.

“Throughout the pandemic NHS Scotland has remained open, continuing to provide emergency and urgent cancer care , as well as maintaining COVID-19 capacity and resilience.

“Many innovative approaches adopted during the COVID-19 response will be maintained as part of the Cancer Recovery Plan, including the use of video technology, national  approaches to prioritisation, innovative diagnostic techniques, timely triaging, and quicker decision making in regards to new treatment options.

“The Plan will continue the momentum of these approaches to service improvement and re-design, ensuring cancer patients have access to the best available treatment and care across Scotland.”

Chair of the Scottish Cancer Coalition and Head of External Affairs for Scotland at Bowel Cancer UK Claire Donaghy said:

“Every member of the Scottish Cancer Coalition has seen firsthand the significant impact COVID-19 has had on cancer services in Scotland, and we are pleased that ‘Recovery and Redesign: An action plan for cancer services’ has been published.

“The Scottish Government clearly recognises the crucial role the third sector has in supporting cancer patients, and we welcomed the opportunity to input into the development of the plan.

“NHS Scotland continues to face unprecedented pressures, and we hope that the 68 identified actions will help to ensure the delivery of improved cancer services and patient outcomes.”


The 68 actions in the plan will focus on five themes: Patient & Family Support, Detection & Diagnosis, Treatment, Workforce and Governance & System Support.

The Cancer Recovery Plan will be delivered with oversight from the National Cancer Recovery Group, co-chaired by Professor Aileen Keel and NHS Tayside Chief Executive Grant Archibald, and is aligned to the NHS Remobilise, Recover and Re-design Framework. It has taken into account the views and experiences of patients and their families and those of a number of stakeholders, from the Scottish Cancer Coalition, including Cancer Research UK and Macmillan Cancer Support, to the Less Survivable Cancer Taskforce.

Recovery and redesign: cancer services - action plan

Re-mobilise, Recover, Re-design, The Framework for NHS Scotland 

COVID-19: Scotland’s route map for transitioning through and out of the crisis 

More detail on Health Boards mobilisation plans

Framework for recovery of cancer surgery


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