Lothian has worst waiting record for patients given urgent referral for suspected cancer

THE proportion of Lothian patients referred urgently with a suspicion of cancer who are treated within the target of 62 days has plummeted over the past three years.

Tuesday, 24th September 2019, 7:04 pm
Less than three-quarters of Lothian patients given an urgent referral for suspected cancer are treated within the target time.

In March 2016, 92 per cent of patients here were seen within the target time, but now the figures is just 74.1 per cent, making NHS Lothian the worst performer for treatment of cancer in whole of Scotland.

The Scottish average has fallen from 90.2 per cent to 82.4 per cent over the same period against a target of 95 per cent.

Edinburgh Southern Labour MSP Daniel Johnson said: “It’s truly shocking that in the Capital the trend for treatment of cancer is getting significantly worse in such a short period of time.

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“We all know that the quicker someone is referred and treated, the more likely they are to survive and have the chance to live a normal life.

“There are so many examples now, of the struggles that NHS Lothian is having to deal with and we know that the financial support and effective leadership from this Scottish Government is just not there.

“We’ve starved our NHS of funding and people are now suffering as a result.”

Scottish Conservative Health spokesman and Lothian MSP Miles Briggs said waiting times for diagnosis and treatment of patients urgently referred with suspicion of cancer were unacceptably long.

“Waiting times for cancer treatments are a prime example of the damage caused by 12 years of SNP mismanagement of our health service.”

Campaigners at the Macmillan cancer charity urged the Scottish Government to ensure the NHS has a “fully funded workforce plan” in place so patients can be diagnosed and treated more quickly.

Janice Preston, head of Macmillan in Scotland, said: “Waiting for a cancer diagnosis, or to begin treatment, is extremely stressful. We know staff are doing their best but as this report states, many health boards don’t have enough surgeons, radiographers or nurses to meet demand.

“We recognise the government has committed additional funding to tackle waiting times and hope this will lead to improvements.

“However, staffing problems don’t just affect diagnosis but the care available throughout treatment. It’s vital the NHS has a fully-funded workforce plan that sets out how it will meet the challenges of the ever-increasing numbers of people in need of cancer care.”

Jacquie Campbell, chief officer of acute services, NHS Lothian, said: “I apologise to anyone who has been waiting longer than they should. We work hard to make sure we diagnose and treat patients as quickly as possible.

“NHS Lothian provides highly specialist cancer therapies and diagnostic services that are only available in a few centres in Scotland. Nevertheless we see and treat the majority of cancer patients within the agreed waiting times and we are always looking at ways of improving our service.”