Coronavirus in Scotland: Planned operations hit four-month low in December
Planned operations in Scotland dropped again in December, new figures show, reaching the lowest level since August.
There has been a stark reduction in non-urgent operations throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, but monthly figures had begun to increase throughout the summer, rising from just 3,500 in April to over 18,000 in October.
But numbers have begun to drop amid the Covid-19 second wave, in December reaching the lowest level since August, at 16,700.
This is 35 per cent fewer planned operations than took place in December 2019.
It comes after several health boards, including NHS Ayrshire and Arran and NHS Lanarkshire, cancelled all planned operations in January to focus on Covid-19 related care.
It is understood that in other health board areas operations have also been cancelled on a case by case bases.
It comes as cancer charities called on the NHS to keep working hard to deliver non-Covid care to patients.
Figures released on Tuesday showed an increase in successful bowel cancer screening in Scotland before the pandemic, following the introduction of a new test which is easier to take.
It was hoped that 60 per cent of people who completed the faecal immunochemical test introduced in November 2017 would complete it and receive a result. Figures show that between May 2018 and March 2020 that target was reached, at 63 per cent.
Lisa Cohen of Cancer Research UK in Scotland, said: “Prior to the pandemic, it was good to see uptake of bowel cancer screening increasing, due to the introduction of new testing kits which are easier to complete and can help to pick up bowel cancer earlier.
“But Covid-19 has disrupted screening services, putting all that progress at risk. Cancer hasn’t stopped during the pandemic, and we cannot allow last year’s temporary pause in screening to become a permanent setback in our efforts to save more lives from cancer.”
Macmillan’s head of policy in Scotland, Kate Seymour, said: “While today’s figures are good news and show welcome improvements in the uptake of the tests, the pandemic undoubtedly risks reversing gains made in early diagnosis because of a significant backlog in cancer care, with delays to diagnosis and treatment."
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