By Bill Heaney

Dame Jackie Baillie has demanded urgent action from the Health Secretary as performance against cancer treatment targets falls to another record low.

Latest Cancer Waiting Times statistics show that cancer treatment times hit their worst point on record in the quarter ending 31 March 2023, with both the 62 and the 31-day standards being missed.

Performance against the 62-day standard fell particularly sharply, with just 69.4 percent of patients starting treatment on time instead of the recommended 95 percent. In the Greater Glasgow and Clyde health board area, which covers the Dumbarton constituency, this figure was just 60.1 percent.

This target was not met by a single NHS Board this quarter and hasn’t been met overall for over a decade.

These figures also mark the fourth consecutive quarter that the 31-day standard has been missed in the Greater Glasgow and Clyde area.

This standard requires that 95% of patients who receive a cancer diagnosis start their treatment within 31 days.

A separate report on colorectal cancer showed that just 83.4 percent of people in Greater Glasgow and Clyde suspected as having this form of cancer had a large bowel examination to confirm diagnosis. The target is 95 percent.

Dame Jackie branded the Scottish Government’s cancer plan as “inadequate” and warned that “the lives of Scots hang in the balance”.

She said: “These statistics clearly show that our NHS is still in the midst of an SNP-made crisis – with cancer targets being missed again.

“A red alert should be sounding for this government with the 62-day standard not being met across the country and the 31-day target only being achieved by less than half of health boards.

“Indeed, in Greater Glasgow and Clyde, the figures are even worse than in the rest of the country meaning people in my constituency could face worse outcomes as a result.

“Cancer remains Scotland’s biggest killer – but it is clear that thousands of Scots are waiting an unacceptably long time to be treated. We know what this means – poorer patient outcomes with the SNP government to blame.

“NHS staff are working tirelessly but are being failed by this government and its inadequate cancer plan.

“Michael Matheson has inherited an almighty mess from Humza Yousaf – but we cannot wait any longer to see improvements. The lives of Scots hang in the balance – Matheson must act and fast.”

 Jackie Baillie, Humza Yousaf, Michael Matheson and Alex Cole-Hamilton.

Meanwhile, Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Alex Cole-Hamilton has urged Michael Matheson to “pull out all the stops” and make tackling cancer waiting times one of his top priorities, as figures published today show the worst cancer waiting times performance against the 62-day referral to treatment standard since records began in 2012.

Figures published today by Public Health Scotland reveal that only 69.4% of patients were seen within the 62 day standard, a decrease from 71.7% in the last quarter. The 62 day standard was also not met by any NHS Health Board.

Mr Cole-Hamilton said: “These statistics once again lay bare this SNP/Green government’s complete and utter failure when it comes to treating Scots who have been diagnosed with cancer.

“So many individuals and their families are being forced to wait day-after-day for the help they need. Humza Yousaf owes every one of them an apology for allowing things to get so bad during his time as health secretary.

“It’s now incumbent upon Michael Matheson to pull out all the stops in his efforts to tackle these waiting times urgently. Early intervention in cancer cases is crucial to chances of survival so the stakes here could simply not be higher – it’s a matter of life and death.

“Both NHS patients and staff are tired of being continually failed by this government. Things simply have to change and fast. The people of Scotland cannot afford otherwise.”


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