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Cancer waiting times

Published: 15 Dec 2015 10:15

Thirty one day standard continues to be met.

The 95 per cent standard of patients receiving cancer treatment within 31 days of a decision to treat continues to be met, according to statistics published today.

The figures, published by ISD Scotland, show that 95.2 per cent of patients had their first treatment within the 31 day standard from July to September. The average wait was seven days, and 90 per cent of patients waited 27 days or less.

For the 62 day referral to treatment standard, which applies to patients referred with an urgent suspicion of cancer, 90.0 per cent were treated within 62 days. The average wait was 39 days.

This year, the Scottish Government has invested £5.25 million to help health boards improve cancer waiting times. The funding is targeted at helping boards to meet the 62 day standard, by building diagnostic and treatment capacity. It is in on top of the £8.5 million invested over the past three years to improve cancer services, which runs alongside the £39 million Detect Cancer Early programme.

The Scottish Government is currently working with stakeholders and patients to develop its new cancer strategy which is expected to be available by spring 2016. This will include further investment in cancer services.

Health Secretary Shona Robison said:

"It is vital that we treat cancer as quickly as possible and that's why we have set rigorous standards in this area. I am pleased to see that the 31 day standard continues to be met, and that the average wait is only seven days once a decision has been made to treat.

"Over the last few years, cancer services have developed and improved significantly with more doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals and state-of-the-art equipment in all five of Scotland's cancer centres. Overall cancer death rates have dropped by 11 per cent over the past 10 years and the overall cancer mortality rate for 2014 is the lowest over the past decade.

"Meanwhile, our £39 million Detect Cancer Early programme is focused on diagnosing the illness at an earlier stage when chances of survival are higher and helping save more lives every year. This has resulted in the number of people in Scotland living for at least five years after a cancer diagnosis reaching a record high.

"However, we know more needs to be done. Earlier this year I announced an additional, targeted £5.25 million to help boards improve diagnostics and build capacity, with help for boards that are experiencing particular pressures, to cut waiting times and ensure patients get the speedy tests and treatment they need.

"We are also committed to publishing a new cancer strategy to ensure real improvements are made to services and are currently working with stakeholders and patients to develop this by spring 2016. This will include further investment in cancer services.

"A key component of this work is to ensure that we have the right information, at the right time to support improvements in local services. This work is supported by the Scottish Cancer Taskforce, and being led by the Innovative Healthcare Delivery Programme based at the Farr Institute and directed by Dr Aileen Keel, who also chairs the Scottish Cancer Taskforce. The intelligence framework is an important step in improving cancer services and will be a key feature of the forthcoming cancer plan."

Notes to editors

The full statistical publication is available on the ISD Scotland website:

This government has invested £39 million in the Detect Cancer Early programme since 2012, £12 million since 2011 to improve cancer service capacity, £22 million for the new Beatson Centre at Monkland's Hospital and £17.4 million to deliver our breast, bowel and cervical screening programmes.