New cancer strategy: consultation

We have started developing a new cancer strategy for Scotland and want to seek wide ranging views on what should be prioritised as we recover from the pandemic and beyond. The consultation will be live from 12 April 2022 until 7 June 2022, this document has been developed to support responses.

Ministerial Foreword

Cancer impacts so many, whether that is directly or indirectly through our friends and family. When looking at all types of cancer together, it is currently the largest burden of disease across Scotland, accounting for over 230,000 disability adjusted life years.[1] We continue to see an increase in the number of cancers in Scotland, with an 11% increase over the last decade to 2019.[2] This continued increase is in part due to the ageing population of Scotland, but also our success in increasing survival rates from other diseases.

However, despite the increase in cancer, we are seeing reduced death rates, with an 11% reduction over the last 10 years.[3] This is in no small part due to the exceptional work of our NHS Scotland and the continued support provided to people diagnosed with cancer. We continue to strive for earlier diagnosis as we know this is critical to improving patient outcomes and survival.

Over the pandemic, we saw an initial reduction in urgent suspicion of cancer referrals; however, they have since returned and are exceeding pre-Covid rates. In order to cope with the increased demand for cancer services, we have deployed new ways of working across our health boards with an increasing regional and national approach to services. Access to new technologies has allowed us to see people virtually, at a time when coming into hospital may have increased their risk, particularly for people who were increasingly vulnerable due to a course of treatment. Additionally, we have seen an increase in people with cancer being treated closer to home with new medicines being approved by our national cancer medicines advisory group. Our current plan 'Recovery and Redesign: An Action Plan for Cancer Services' was published during the first year of the pandemic and set out a number of priorities to pave the way for remobilisation and recovery of our cancer services.

We are now two years into the pandemic and with the easing of protective measures, NHS Scotland continues to adapt and is learning to live with COVID-19. We are now in a position in which we need to set out our long-term ambitions and design a new strategy for cancer services. This consultation seeks views on the proposed vision, aims, and key areas of focus for our cancer services. Your responses will be vital to shape not only the final strategy but cancer care in the years ahead.

We look forward to receiving your views, and I want to thank each of you for taking the time to contribute.

Humza Yousaf
Cabinet Secretary for Health and Social Care



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