By Democrat reporter
Jackie Baillie, MSP for Dumbarton Constituency, pictured right, has said that waiting times for key diagnostic tests for conditions such as cancer are unacceptable and that they risk a tidal wave of future health problems.
This comes as new figures reveal thousands of people are waiting far longer than they should.
New data published today from Public Health Scotland shows that at 30 September 2020, 46.7% of patients were waiting over the target six weeks – more than double the 17.7% waiting this long at the same point last year.
A standard waiting time of six weeks was set by the Scottish Government in 2009 for diagnostic tests such as CT and MRI scans to aid early detection of conditions like cancer or brain tumours.
In NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, which includes West Dunbartonshire, as of 30 September 2020, 67.3% of patients had to wait over six weeks for an endoscopy test and 33.2% of endoscopy patients were left waiting for over 26 weeks.
Similarly, 39.5% of patients were forced to wait more than six weeks for a radiology test with 4.3% waiting over 26 weeks.
Jackie Baillie MSP said: “This data is especially concerning given the statistics from before the pandemic showing cancer patients from deprived areas were less likely to be diagnosed in the early stages of the disease.
“It is a well-known fact that patients have the best chance of beating illnesses like cancer when it is caught as earlier as possible.
“We need routine testing for all healthcare workers, which the Scottish Government is still not doing, and measures put in place to maintain Covid safe spaces in our hospitals, allowing the resumption of services.
“Scotland is facing a tidal wave of health problems and the SNP government must urgently start giving our NHS the support it needs in order to prevent further unnecessary deaths.”
Gartnavel Royal, RAH, Paisley and Vale of Leven Hospital.
Meanwhile, Jackie Baillie has called for a renewed focus on increasing mental health support as figures released today show that deaths by suicide in Scotland were continuing to increase before the pandemic.
Public Health Scotland statistics reveal that in 2019, the number of probable suicides increased to 833, a year on year increase of 6.25%.
Although the highest rate of deaths was in the 45-54 age bracket, the number of deaths due to suicide increased across all ages, with deaths amongst men almost three times higher than women.
Baillie has called out the Scottish Government for its lack of progress towards meeting its own target of a 20% reduction in suicide deaths by 2022, and said that many deaths could be prevented with the right support in place.
She said: “Scotland’s mental health crisis is worsening and this tragic increase in the number of deaths by suicide is worrying.
“Anyone can experience mental health problems, but no-one should have to live with such levels of distress that they consider ending their own life.
“These new figures are only for suicides prior to 2020. It shows that pre-COVID 19 – and the negative impact that it has had on mental health and well-being – people were already struggling.
“As a result of the pandemic, we are seeing unprecedented pressure on people dealing with loneliness and isolation so more must be done to highlight the support that is available.
“The Scottish Government also needs to do more than set targets. It must work with the NHS and all partners to end long waiting times for mental health care, and ensure support is available and accessible to those that need it as a matter of urgency.”