Cancer patients left waiting in Lothian

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Cancer patients in Lothian are having to wait longer to start treatment than what the Scottish Government deems acceptable.

NHS Scotland’s Information Services Division (ISD) released waiting times for cancer patients between April and June.

NHS Lothian logo

NHS Lothian logo

And NHS Lothian narrowly missed its target of 95 per cent of cancer patients being treated within 62 days of receipt of referral. It saw 93 per cent

The results were broken up into two categories: starting treatment for a patient within 31 days from the decision to treat and to start treatment 62 days from the receipt of the referral.

The period of wait applicable to the 31 day standard is included under the 62 standard.

And whilst most boards across the country failed to meet that target, NHS Lothian was one of the few to also miss the 31 day target.

Some 94.6 per cent patients were seen within 31 days after the decision to treat.

Jim Crombie, chief officer for NHS Lothian, expressed the board’s regret that some patients were not seen in time.

“We see and treat the overwhelming majority of people with suspected cancer quickly and do not want to see patients waiting longer than is necessary,” he said.

“In a small number of cases patients wait longer than the 62 days target, and we apologise to any patients who have waited too long.”

Shona Robinson, Health Secretary, said: “Prompt cancer treatment is vital – and that’s why we have set rigorous standards in this area.”

Speaking about Scotland-wide figures, she said: “The figures show that between April and June, the percentage of patients who started treatment within 31 days of a doctor’s diagnosis has improved. The average wait is six days.

“It remains the case that nine out of 10 patients begin cancer treatment within 62 days of referral.”

The cancers recorded were: breast, cervical, colorectal, head and neck, lung, lymphoma, melanoma, ovarian, upper GI, and urological.

The Scottish Government said that more money was to be injected into the sector.

Shona Robinson added: “I want health boards to work even harder to improve early access to diagnostics so that patients can get a decision on whether they need treatment or not as quickly as possible.

“This is where we are focusing our efforts – with an additional £2 million invested this August to support immediate improvements in diagnostic and treatment capacity.

“And we are continuing to implement our new £100 million Cancer Strategy, which will drive improvements in access to cancer care and invest in the prevention, detection, diagnosis, treatment and aftercare for cancer patients, as well as improving treatment waiting times.”