Cancer patient was forced to wait 13 MONTHS for urgent treatment because of ‘horrifying’ NHS delays
Figures have shown the patient, with colorectal cancer, waited 397 days to begin treatment, while an oesophageal cancer patient waited 286 days.
The Scottish Government standard says treatment should begin within 62 days from an urgent referral with a suspicion of cancer.
But the figures for 2021/22 revealed the scale of the waiting times crisis facing NHS Scotland.
The longest prostate cancer treatment wait was 277 days. Waits of more than 100 days were recorded for patients with breast, cervical, head and neck, lung, ovarian cancer, lymphoma and melanoma.
A cancer patient was forced to wait 13 months for treatment due to ‘horrifying’ Scottish NHS delays [File image]
Michael Matheson, Cabinet Secretary for NHS Recovery, Health and Social Care, gives a media interview in the lobby of the Scottish Parliament
Scottish Labour said Health Secretary Michael Matheson must deliver a new, patient-focused cancer strategy as a matter of urgency.
Scotland is currently awaiting a new Cancer Plan after the latest one expired in March 2023.
Scottish Labour health spokesman Jackie Baillie said: ‘We have the grotesque and horrifying fact people are languishing on cancer waiting lists for well over a year. This is a national scandal.
‘Cancer remains Scotland’s biggest killer but the SNP has failed time and time again to produce a Cancer Plan that is capable of helping our hardworking clinicians and our NHS tackle the cancer crisis. Michael Matheson has a chance to draw a line under the failures and missed opportunities of former SNP health ministers.
‘That’s why today I am sending a direct message to Michael Matheson – end the neglect of cancer care, bolster our NHS and act to save lives now.’ The NHS Scotland 62-day standard says 95 per cent of eligible patients should wait no longer than 62 days from urgent suspicion of cancer referral to first cancer treatment.
The latest figures show that standard was not met by any health boards in the last three months. Of the patients who began cancer treatment in December, 71.7 per cent started within the 62-day standard, compared with 75.1 per cent in the previous quarter, and 83.7 per cent in the quarter ending December 31, 2019.
Meanwhile, a survey by the GMB union found 82 per cent of care staff have considered quitting in the last 12 months. Poor pay and conditions have led to misery across the sector, the study said.
It also found 80 per cent of social care staff fear work stress is damaging their health and 84 per cent said pay levels make it unaffordable for them to continue. Kirsty Nimmo, the GMB union’s lead organiser in private care, said: ‘Ministers were happy to applaud the commitment of care workers during the pandemic and they should not abandon them now.’
A survey by the GMB union found 82 per cent of care staff have considered quitting in the last 12 months [File image]
Scottish Social Care Minister Maree Todd said: ‘We are looking at how we can plan for, attract, train, employ and nurture the workforce.’
A Scottish Government spokesman said: ‘Our NHS, despite the impact of the pandemic, is treating more cancer patients than ever before. Despite this increase in numbers, the median wait from decision to treat to first treatment is five days.
‘The Scottish Government has invested £10million to support boards in improving cancer waiting times in 2022/23. Cancer remains a national priority for the NHS and Scottish Government, which is why we will publish a new ten-year strategy soon.’