By Lucy Ashton

Labour has promised to make women’s health a priority, as breast cancer treatment targets are missed either side of the border.

Anneliese Dodds, Labour’s Shadow Women and Equalities Secretary, Jackie Baillie, Scottish Labour’s Health Spokesperson, and Carol Mochan, Scottish Labour’s Women’s Health spokesperson, are today (Friday 28) holding round table talks in Glasgow to discuss access to breast cancer services and women’s health inequalities.

Analysis of NHS England and NHS Scotland figures lays bare how key indicators on breast cancer treatment have deteriorated under the SNP and Conservative governments.

The most recent cancer waiting times figures show both the 62 day standard and the 31 day standards for breast cancer treatment were missed in England and Scotland alike, putting thousands of women in danger.

More and more breast cancer patients in Scotland are being diagnosed at a late stage, with early identification falling.

In Scotland the pausing of breast cancer screening during the pandemic and the scandal in the Tayside breast cancer service have piled yet more pressure on already-stretched services.

Labour’s Anneliese Dodds,  Carol Mochan MSP and Jackie Baillie.

The visit forms part of Anneliese Dodds’ “national conversation” on the experiences of women in their 40s, 50s and 60s.  She announced her intention in March to undertake a conversation on the experiences of women, at home, at work and in healthcare, as part of an effort to “give a voice” to women who had previously been neglected.

Anneliese Dodds, Shadow Women and Equalities Secretary, said:  “Whether at the hands of the Conservatives or SNP, it’s clear that women’s health has been deprioritised.

“It is shameful that women are being left waiting in fear for a diagnosis or to deteriorate waiting for treatment.

“The SNP and the Conservatives have been letting women down for too long, but the next Labour government will ensure the NHS is there for every woman when they need it and make women’s health a priority.”

Jackie Baillie, Scottish Labour Deputy Leader and Health Spokesperson, said:  “Women north and south of the border are being let down by two incompetent governments.

“For too long the SNP have only aimed to be slightly better than this catastrophic Tory government – and sometimes they haven’t even managed that.

“The Tories and the SNP are have both overseen shameful failures on women’s health, but a Labour government will raise the bar.

“Scottish Labour would deliver a real cancer catch up plan to tackle these dangerous backlogs, improve outreach in access in the most deprived areas and support breast cancer oncology workforce with a real NHS workforce plan.

“It’s time for governments across the UK to get breast cancer treatment back on track and start addressing the historic inequality that continue to plague our healthcare system.”

Breast cancer waiting times 

Performance against 31 and 62 day cancer treatment standards, Q3 2022/23:

31-day standard 62-day standard
Performance Target Performance Target
Scotland 92.3 95 86.6 95
England 91.2 96 71.7 85

Source: ScotlandEngland

Detect cancer early staging data

  • There has been a significant stage shift for breast cancer since the pandemic, with more women diagnosed with late-stage disease (stages 3&4; 13.3% in 2021 vs 11.6% in 2018-2019) and correspondingly fewer women diagnosed with early-stage disease (stages 1&2; 83.9% in 2021 vs 85.7% in 2018-2019).


The fallout from the NHS Tayside dosage scandal and the accusations of flawed investigations and cover-ups has left vacancies unfilled for years and patients having to travel for treatment decisions. Source:

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