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Daily Record
Daily Record
Stephen Temlett

Dumfries and Galloway cancer patient waited nearly a full year to begin treatment

A cancer patient in Dumfries and Galloway waited almost a year to begin treatment.

Statistics from Public Health Scotland revealed that no health board met the Holyrood Government’s target of 95 per cent of patients beginning treatment 62 days after an urgent suspicion of the disease.

The maximum wait across Scotland for a patient was 326 days, which was recorded in Dumfries and Galloway.

South Scotland MSP Colin Smyth said: “When your target is a maximum of 62 days and someone has waited 326 days, then something has gone very badly wrong.

“It isn’t just a one-off case. In Dumfries and Galloway, almost a fifth of patients didn’t begin their treatment within the target time.

“Behind these figures are real people worried about their diagnosis and the longer they wait, the more traumatic their experience will be yet the Scottish Government seem utterly incapable of providing the resources that staff need to meet the targets set.”

In the region there were 126 referrals between July and September this year of which 105 started treatment within 62 days which is 83 per cent. The median waiting time was 49 days.

Mr Smyth claims that the NHS faces a “ticking timebomb” of untreated cancer and called for a catch-up plan to be developed.

He added: “The Scottish Government has ignored warning after warning about the pressure on NHS services and the impossible demands being placed on staff without the numbers of doctors and nurses they need, leaving us with a ticking timebomb of untreated cancer that will cost lives and overwhelm our NHS.

“We need a real cancer catch-up plan.”

Health Secretary Humza Yousaf admits that the service remains under pressure in the aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic.

He said: “We’re investing £40 million over five years to support cancer services and improve waiting times, with a focus on urology, colorectal and breast with £10 million released to boards targeted at these most challenged pathways.

“We are committed to finding cancer as early as possible which is why we are expanding rapid cancer diagnostic services across Scotland with centres already established in NHS Dumfries and Galloway.

“In addition on Monday we published Scotland’s first optimal cancer diagnostic pathway for lung cancer, alongside £3 million investment.”

An NHS Dumfries and Galloway spokesperson added: “We welcome that this data highlights an improved position within Dumfries and Galloway, where the percentage of people beginning treatment within 62 days has continued to increase throughout the year.

“Our figure stood at 76.9 per cent in quarter one, 79.2 per cent in quarter two, and has now increased to 83.3 per cent in quarter three.

“We are above the national average, but we continue to make concerted efforts to improve our performance – with cancer diagnosis and treatment having continued in Dumfries and Galloway as an identified priority throughout the pandemic.

“Many of the cancer treatments are delivered centrally, through the South of Scotland Cancer Network, and so it will not be within the gift of any Board to influence the time before treatment for that cancer can take place.

“As ever, we cannot comment on any particular case, but there can be many reasons why cancer treatment may not begin within an appropriate timescale.

“These can be issues with capacity which are outwith our control. It can also be due to the patient’s own choice, their clinical fitness to undergo treatment at that point, the need for highly specialist treatment at a central location, or a combination of such factors relating to the individual.”

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