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NHS misses waiting targets for four cancers

Overall, 95.8 per cent of patients in Scotland started treatment within 62 days of being urgently referred with suspicion of cancer at the end of last year. Picture: PA

Overall, 95.8 per cent of patients in Scotland started treatment within 62 days of being urgently referred with suspicion of cancer at the end of last year. Picture: PA

  • by LYNDSAY BUCKLAND
 

PATIENTS with some types of cancer in Scotland are still not being seen quickly enough, new figures show.

The statistics showed that, overall, 95.8 per cent of patients in Scotland started treatment within 62 days of being urgently referred with suspicion of cancer at the end of last year – an increase from 94 per cent the previous quarter.

But the 95 per cent target was not met for lung, bowel, prostate and head and neck cancers.

The figures, published by health-data compilers Information Services Division Scotland, also revealed that two health boards – Highland and Ayrshire and Arran – failed to hit the overall target.

The 95 per cent target was set to try to make sure that patients who are seen by their GP with suspected cancer start treatment within two months.

The figures show that some cancers have surpassed this level, with 99.8 per cent of breast cancer patients starting treatment within 62 days, and 98.5 per cent for women with ovarian cancers.

But for other forms of the disease, compliance with the target has remained much lower.

Colorectal cancer, which includes bowel cancer, only saw 94 per cent being treated within two months, while for lung cancer 94.2 per cent met the target. But compliance was lowest in head and neck cancers, at 92.9 per cent, and urology, which includes prostate and bladder cancer, at 92 per cent.

In the two health boards that failed to meet the target, Ayrshire and Arran had a rate of 94.6 per cent of patients seen in two months, while in Highland it fell to 93.4 per cent. NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde only just hit the target with 95 per cent achieved.

But other figures showed better success in meeting the target to start treatment within 31 days of the decision being made on the therapy they needed. Between October and December, 98.1 per cent of patients started treatment within the 31-day target, up from 97.6 per cent the previous three months.

Vicky Crichton, Cancer Research UK’s senior public affairs manager in Scotland, said: “It’s vital that everyone with cancer has the same access to treatment irrespective of where they live or the type of cancer they have.”

Scottish Liberal Democrat health spokesman Jim Hume said: “I am concerned that hospitals have failed to meet national waiting times standards for four out of ten cancer types.”

Health secretary Alex Neil said: “Cancer waiting times figures show that patients who are referred for cancer treatment are continuing to be seen within the fastest possible time.”

 

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