A package of measures, including £50 million extra funding, is to be made available to health boards this year to reduce long waits for treatment.
Health Boards will receive an initial share of £25 million to target a number of specialities, including neurology, orthopaedics and diagnostics, to help deliver swift treatment.
A further £25 million will be made available later in the year to help support areas to build upon improvements in services through the work health boards are doing with the Scottish Access Collaborative.
Alongside this, the Scottish Government is appointing two independent diagnostic leads to scrutinise the healthcare system and ensure tests for illnesses, including cancer, are delivered in a coordinated way right across the country.
They will provide both clinical and management leadership and explore what innovative approaches can be rolled out across the country, such as the expansion of qFIT testing in primary care for unexplained bowel symptoms and the use of specialist advanced nurses to better support diagnosis.
READ MORE: SNP’s waiting time law broken 100,000 times since 2012
Health Secretary Shona Robison said: “Our NHS staff do a wonderful job every day, however a challenging winter has impacted on our systems right across the health and social care system.
“This funding will help ensure prompt treatment for many and allow Boards to best target funding where it is most needed.
“We’re making great progress in improving the way serious illness, including cancer, is detected and treated but we know we need to do more to ensure people get access to the right care at the right time.
“The new diagnostic posts are a vitally important step in making sure that, across Scotland, our health service can deliver high-quality and swift treatment to those who need it, and to make sure there is a consistency in approach.
“Their work will help shape treatment and care for the future.”
READ MORE: New bill to ensure NHS meets trained staff requirements
Claire Donaghy, Head of Scotland for Bowel Cancer UK and Beating Bowel Cancer, says: “This important announcement by the Scottish Government is a step in the right direction, and once appointed we urge the National Clinical Diagnostics Lead to tackle the endoscopy crisis as a priority. This includes overseeing the development and implementation of an action plan that provides a comprehensive assessment of future demand for endoscopy services, what capacity is required to meet this demand and how this extra capacity can be delivered.
“We look forward to working with the lead to ensuring everyone has access to timely and high quality tests for bowel cancer across Scotland.”