Over 7000 forced to wait for more than nine weeks for cancer treatment

Figures from ISD Scotland have revealed Scotland’s cancer waiting times crisis.

Since 2011, over 7000 people have waited longer than 62 days standard for cancer treatment following a referral. Even worse, the problem is growing. The number of people waiting longer than the target has increased by over 250 per cent. And this can’t all be chalked up to higher demand either - the proportion of people waiting out of total referrals has more than tripled over this period.

You can see the scale of the crisis on this graph - with total numbers on the left, and the percentage of those waiting on the right:

The problem has been made more acute because of chronic understaffing. There were over 16,000 shortage reports filed over the last four years, with over half of Scotland’s nurses reporting that understaffing meant care could not be provided to their satisfaction. Almost 500 doctor post remain unfilled, with more than half of those remaining vacant for over a year. The total number of vacancies has increased by a quarter in the past year alone.

Responding to the report, Scottish Labour’s health spokesperson Anas Sarwar MSP said:

“Cancer remains Scotland’s biggest killer and swift treatment can have a dramatic effect on outcomes - instead the SNP government is failing patients across Scotland.

“Even one person having to wait too long for treatment for cancer is one too many – having thousands of people wait too long is a national scandal.

“The reality is the SNP has left our NHS doctors and nurses over-worked, under-staffed and under-resourced.

“The SNP's legacy at health is one of horrendous mismanagement and then total denial over performance – and new SNP Health Secretary Jeane Freeman faces a mammoth task to give patients the treatment they deserve.

“Labour will deliver the support our NHS needs and cut waiting times so that if your GP suspects cancer under Labour you see a see a specialist and get results within a fortnight."

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