By Lucy Ashton

Scottish Labour has accused the SNP of failing to prevent a “ticking time bomb” of cancer deaths following the pandemic, as cancer survival rates fall.

A new report on cancer survival rates has revealed a shocking 3.6 percentage point fall in survival rates for all cancers when comparing those diagnosed in 2020 with those diagnosed in 2018-19.

The gap is even more stark when comparing those diagnosed at the start of the pandemic with those diagnosed before. Between Quarters 1 and 2 of 2020, the one-year survival rates plummeted by a shocking 13 percentage points for colorectal cancer, 4 percentage points for breast cancer, and 9 percentage points for all cancers.

In the pink – Jackie Baillie MSP campaigning for better services for women.

This comes on the same day as a new report on cervical cancer screening reveals stubborn inequalities in the programme, with women from the most deprived areas more than 10 percentage points less likely to participate than those in the least deprived.

Three years on from the pandemic, despite the best efforts of NHS staff, cancer care remains challenging, with performance against both 31 and 62 day waiting time targets both at a record low.

Scottish Labour Health spokesperson Jackie Baillie said: “These figures lay bare what we have feared – the cancer timebomb created during the pandemic is costing lives.

“Cancer remains Scotland’s biggest killer, but the SNP has ignored every warning and failed to support staff and patients by producing an effective plan to get services back on track and help our NHS fight this deadly disease.

“Waiting times have soared since the pandemic as Health Secretary Humza Yousaf failed to meet target after target.

“Michael Matheson now has the chance to draw the line under Humza Yousaf’s failures and actually fix this issue – but urgent action is needed.”

Scottish cervical screening programme statistics:

Women from deprived areas are less likely to participate in the screening programme. For the most deprived areas, 62.4% of eligible women were screened, compared with 73.1% of women from the least deprived areas, a difference of more than 10 percentage points.

Cancer survival statistics:

Pictures: Jackie Baillie and Labour colleague Sarah Boyack campaigning for better cancer awareness.

Meanwhile, Scottish Labour has branded Humza Yousaf’s time as health secretary “catastrophic” as new figures reveal NHS waiting lists rising to record levels as he left the role.

At the end of March, as Humza Yousaf departed as Health Secretary, there were 779,533 Scots on an NHS waiting list – equivalent to 1 in every 7 Scots.

This is the highest point on record and an increase of 175,890 compared to mid-2021, shortly after Mr Yousaf took over the Health Secretary post.

Long waits also soared, with a shocking 72,301 of those currently on a waiting list having already waited more than a year.

Health Secretary Michael Matheson and First Minister Humza Yousaf.

Scottish Labour branded this a “national emergency” and called for Michael Matheson to implement a real NHS catch-up plan.

Jackie Baillie said “It should worry us all that the First Minister left behind such a catastrophic legacy as Health Secretary.

“Despite the tireless efforts of NHS staff, record numbers of Scots are languishing on NHS waiting lists and thousands have been left anxious and in pain for over a year.

“Blame for this national emergency lies squarely with Humza Yousaf and his failed NHS recovery plan, which saw waiting lists spiral after the pandemic.

“Michael Matheson must fix the mess he inherited and deliver a real plan to help our NHS recover from the damage inflicted first by the pandemic and then by his predecessor.”

Patients waiting at end of quarter:

  Qtr ending 30/06/2021 Qtr ending 30/09/2022 Qtr ending 31/12/2022 Qtr ending 31/03/2023
Diagnostics 115,253 159,992 148,256 152,567
Outpatients 392,062 476,479 477,108 479,725
Inpatient 96,328 141,593 144,517 147,241
Total 603,643 778,064 769,881 779,533

Patients waiting over 52 weeks:

  31-Dec-2019 30-Jun-2021 31-Mar-2023
Diagnostics N/A 3,713 3,773
Outpatients 2,176 31,997 31,498
Inpatient 1,294 21,926 37,030
Total 3,470 57,636 72,301

Source: DiagnosticsOutpatients & Inpatients

One comment

  1. It’s frightening how many of the cancer survival rates are going down.

    Frightening too how here in Dumbarton and environs there are greatly increased levels of certain cancers.

    But there’s a reason for everything. Very little happens by accident.

    Reduced access to timely care is absolutely critical to how people survive or not. Yes there was a pandemic but our NHS is under resourced and it will get worse.

    NHS England is now promoting private care to patients as an option. But it’s only and option for those who can afford to pay.

    And Sir Keir Starmer has promoted the policy discussion about an NHS split where those who can pay go in one door whilst others who can’t pay wait for another door. How long then before our local Humza promotes the same Tory policy.

    As for environmental triggers asbestos has and continues to be a grim legacy of past industrial disregard for safe working.

    But there are other toxins too. Illegal dumping where noxious chemicals hidden in landfill to thereafter leach out are another. And it’s still going on right here in our very area. Money talks, talks big, and blow the legacy to come.

    But the poor die young, or should I say younger. Dumbarton, like Clydebank, has some terrible cancer rates – and it’s not all lifestyle of smoking, drinking and inactive obesity.

    But yes, these worsening cancer statistics are a concern. Sadly there’s more to sorting them than simplistic ya boo politics.

    That said, more NHS resources would be a start.

    Maybe that’s why we sent so many EU national consultants, doctors and nurses back to their own countries in our Brexit orgy of getting rid of foreigners?

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