National cancer plan: progress report - August 2022

Scotland's national cancer plan comes to completion in March 2023. This report uses insights from the available evidence to update on progress against all 68 actions in the plan as at 31 August 2022.

National Cancer Recovery Group Statement

Since the publication of “Recovery and Redesign: An Action Plan for Cancer Services” in December 2020, there has been considerable progress across the 68 actions. An immense amount of work and effort on the part of the NHS workforce has ensured the continued delivery of high quality cancer services across Scotland.

However, it is apparent that over the course of the past two years, despite prioritising cancer, COVID-19 has had a significant impact on service delivery. As we are all aware, at the start of the pandemic cancer screening programmes were paused. The resumption of these programmes meant a backlog of appointments needed to be worked through. Similarly, increased infection control and protection protocols have reduced capacity across services. This has had a direct impact on waiting times, through reduced theatre capacity and availability of Systemic Anti-Cancer Treatment (SACT) chairs.

The National Cancer Recovery Group (NCRG) has been monitoring these impacts closely and has met regularly to discuss progress and next steps. Over the duration of the plan we have had to make the difficult decision to pause or re-phase the timeframe on some of the actions, as a direct response to the increased pressures over Winter 2021. In spite of this, a number of key actions have been completed, including developing a new national radiotherapy plan and outpatient visiting guidance necessitated by COVID-19. The remaining actions are continuing at pace with most expected to be complete by March 2023.

This report has been drafted by the Scottish Government Cancer Policy Unit and Health and Social Care Analysis Division on behalf of NCRG and provides a full overview of the current cancer landscape in Scotland with the most up to date statistical picture. In addition, it provides details on where each of the 68 actions currently sit. The report provides a snapshot in time and will help to inform the development of the future cancer strategy which is being overseen by NCRG.

Professor Aileen Keel, CBE

Chair of the National Cancer Recovery Group



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