By Bill Heaney

Jackie Baillie, MSP for Dumbarton Constituency, has called for the Scottish Government to act urgently following the revelation that nearly 400,000 cancer screenings were delayed during the Covid-19 crisis.

The Holyrood parliament was told the shock figure of 400,000 cancer screenings which were delayed during the Covid-19 lockdown.

This was due to a pause in the screening programme.

Responding to a parliamentary question by Scottish Labour MSP Monica Lennon, Public Health Minister Joe Fitzpatrick confirmed that a total of 396, 736 screenings have been delayed because of the pandemic.

This includes 248,177 bowel screening participants,  46,596 breast screening participants and 101,963 cervical screening participants.

Jackie Baillie wants action to be taken urgently.

She says the local health board, NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, have consistently failed to meet key cancer service targets, including failing to meet the 62 day standard from diagnosis to treatment in every quarterly review since December 2016.

Over that same period, it was below the Scotland wide average for the percentage of patients that were seen within the 62 day standard commitment.

Jackie Baillie said: “Most cancer services were stopped when Covid-19 struck.

“That has meant delays in screening and 400,000 missed opportunities to find or prevent cancer which could risk lives.

“The delivery of cancer treatment must now be a top priority for the Scottish Government when putting in place the plans for the NHS and getting back to normal as the pandemic slows down.

“It is a fact that individuals have the best chance of surviving cancer when the disease is caught early and treated quickly.

“Patients deserve far more than the standard of care they are currently receiving.

“The Health Secretary [Jeane Freeman] must listen to patients and staff and take urgent action to recover all cancer services and treatments impacted by Covid-19.”

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