Number of Scots patients receiving urgent referrals for cancer treatment rockets
20.11.2023 - 04:47
The number of Scots receiving urgent referrals for cancer treatment has rocketed over the last four years, figures show.
Outpatient referrals marked by doctors as "urgent, suspicion of cancer" have jumped from 96,000 in 2018/19 to 171,000 in 2022/23.
NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, the country's largest health board, saw referral figures increase from 25,000 pre-pandemic to a shocking 43,000 in 2022/23.
NHS Lothian recorded 10,000 more referrals for the same period.
Scottish Labour, which uncovered the figures, claimed the dramatic spike in urgent referrals was likely due to overstretched services and the Scottish Government failing to invest in primary care.
Jackie Baillie, the party's health spokeswoman, said SNP ministers had repeatedly failed to meet their government's own key performance targets for cancer treatment.
The official target is for 95 per cent of patients to start receiving treatment within 62 days if they have been referred with an urgent suspicion of cancer.
But the performance slumped to 69.4 per cent of patients in the first three months of 2023, down from 71.7 per cent
The Government published its latest cancer strategy earlier this year but has not outlined when it will deliver improvements by.
Baillie said: "Cancer remains Scotland’s biggest killer and yet this SNP Government has time and time again failed to take the decisive action needed to save lives.
"Every loved one lost to cancer is a tragedy. It is absolutely crucial that everybody afflicted by cancer has early access to high-quality treatment and care.
"This surge in suspected cancer referrals is not just down to Covid. It’s a result of the repeated failures by SNP Health Ministers to get a grip on this deadly disease.
"After 16 years of SNP