NHS Grampian is failing to meet Government targets for treating patients urgently referred with a suspicion of cancer – and has the worst rate in Scotland.
New figures, from October to December 2017, show 80.4% of patients urgently referred with a suspicion of cancer receive their first treatment within 62 days – against a Scottish Government target of 95%.
The stats, provided by the Information Services Division (ISD), also reveal 87.3% of patients will wait no more than 31 days from a decision to treat, to first cancer treatment – against a target of 95%.
Both of these performances were the worst of any health board within Scotland, with NHS Grampian one of four failing to meet their 31-day target.
And the situation has worsened compared to the same time period in 2016 when 84.8% of patients were seen in the 62-day target and 93.4% within the 31-day target.
Tom Mason, Scottish Conservative MSP for the North-east region, said: “We are all aware of the importance of early diagnosis – and any delay could have very serious consequences indeed.
“These figures are clearly unacceptable, and alarm bells should be ringing at the steep decline in performance in the past year.”
A NHS Grampian spokeswoman said: “As has been acknowledged, we do face particular challenges in consistently meeting the 31 and 62 day standards across all specialities.
“In some categories the number requiring treatment is so small that even minor variations can have a significant effect on our overall performance.
“We do, however, recognise that this will be a very anxious time for patients and their relatives and would wish to reassure all patients that they are closely monitored to ensure that they receive appropriate treatment as quickly as possible.”
Health Secretary Shona Robison said: “The Scottish Government is committed to beating cancer, investing more than £100 million in our cancer strategy which is focused on improving the prevention, detection, diagnosis, treatment and aftercare of those affected by the disease, including £5m to improve cancer waiting times across Scotland.
“There are more urgent suspected cancer patients being treated than ever before, and our expert group is continuing to focus on driving forward cancer performance.
“In May, we will host an event bringing together cancer experts across Scotland to share best practice and learning and consider what other innovative approaches can be taken to drive up performance.”
The Scottish Government is also pulling together a package of bold measures to tackle the root causes of cancer, including obesity, which is the second-biggest cause of preventable cancer, behind smoking.
- Evening Express