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£2.5 million to improve cancer care


An additional £2.5 million is being invested to help health boards across Scotland meet cancer waiting times, the Scottish Government announced today.

The news came as new figures released by Information Services Division show:
  • The NHS in Scotland continues to consistently meet the target of 95 per cent of patients receiving treatment within 31 days of the decision to treat being taken
  • The average length of time a patient in Scotland waits to start their cancer treatment is just six days, again from when a decision is made on what treatment is needed
  • On average patients in Scotland start treatment within 39 days after urgent referral.


The £2.5 million will help health boards to meet the 62 day cancer standard by building diagnostic and treatment capacity.


Health Secretary Alex Neil said:


"A cancer diagnosis is devastating news. That’s why I welcome that the average length of time a patient waits to start their cancer treatment in Scotland is just six days, as we know that the sooner a patient starts treatment the better their chances of survival.


"We are also consistently reaching the demanding 31 day target for treatment despite the fact our NHS is treating more people than ever before and coping with the demands of an aging population.


"We have progressively tightened Scotland’s NHS targets for cancer care to benefit patients, and I can confirm today we are investing a further £2.5 million this year on top of the £9 million invested over the last three years to improve cancer services.


"But we must do more – in particular on our 62 day standard. While this has increased from 84.5 per cent of patients starting treatment within this target in 2007, we remain fully committed to once again reaching our standard of 95 per cent.


"We had already identified specific boards experiencing dips in performance and I sent in a support team to identify where urgent action is needed. These figures cover the period before this team got to work, so I am confident boards will already be delivering changes for patients.


"These local solutions include the recruitment of additional frontline staff, a £10.8 million funding boost for new theatres and a further £478,000 investment in endoscopy services in NHS Grampian.


"We anticipate that the measures being taken by health boards will bring about significant improvements in performance right across Scotland.”


The Scottish Government has been working with health boards since April to develop action plans that address their recent performance. This includes ensuring that patient pathways are effective and timely; service capacity is targeted to minimise waits; and inter-hospital transfer policies are in place.


The Scottish Government’s £30 million Detect Cancer Early programme continues to support early diagnosis and access to treatment.

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