Cancer treatment times within 31 days improves

Health Secretary Shona Robison.
Health Secretary Shona Robison.

Only two NHS health boards met the national target for patients urgently referred with a suspicion of cancer starting treatment within 62 days, but 13 met the 31 day target.

Figures revealed today show that between April and June of this year, NHS Tayside had 90.4% of patients urgently referred with a suspicion of cancer start treatment within 62 days

For Scotland as a whole the figures were 89.7% for 62 days, a decrease from 90.2% in the previous quarter.

Only two health boards - NHS Borders and NHS Lanarkshire - met the 62 day target of 95%. Only one of the 10 cancer types successfully met the 95% standard which was breast, at 96.4%.

For the 31 Day Standard - which is that 95% of all patients will wait no more than 31 days from decision to treat to first cancer treatment - NHS Tayside had 95% of patients start treatment within this standard. Nationally, 95.7% of patients started treatment within 31 days, an increase from 94.9% in the previous quarter.

The 31 day standard was met by 13 of 15 NHS boards. The two that did not were NHS Lothian and NHS Greater Glasgow & Clyde. Nine of the 10 reported cancer types met the 31 day standard - 87.3% of patients waiting were treated within 31 days for urological cancer. This has increased by 2.2% from the previous quarter.

Commenting on the statistics, Health Secretary Shona Robison said: “Prompt cancer treatment is vital - and that’s why we have set rigorous standards in this area. Today’s figures show that, between April and June, the percentage of patients who started treatment within 31 days of a doctor’s diagnosis has improved, with 95.7% of patients treated within the target timescales. The average wait to start treatment stands at six days.

“It also remains the case that nine out of 10 patients begin cancer treatment within 62 days of a referral. However, I want health boards to work even harder to improve early access to diagnostics so that patients can get a decision on whether they need treatment or not as quickly as possible. This is where we are focusing our efforts – with an additional £2 million invested this August to support immediate improvements in diagnostic and treatment capacity.

“In addition, health boards who have particular challenges with waiting times are subject to enhanced monitoring by the Scottish Government, to provide support and assistance in bringing down waits. We are also concentrating on improving services across Scotland for patients with urological cancer – including work at a national level to build capacity across NHS Scotland and investing in new technology such as robotic assisted surgery.

“And we are continuing to implement our new £100 million Cancer Strategy which will drive improvements in access to cancer care and invest in the prevention, detection, diagnosis, treatment and aftercare for cancer patients – as well improving treatment waiting times.”