The number of eligible referrals for cancer treatment in Ayrshire and Arran between 1 April and 30 June 2020 dropped by 30 per cent compared to the same period in 2019.

Figures released by Public Health Scotland on Tuesday revealed that between 1 April and 30 June 2020 there were 216 eligible referrals for cancer treatment by NHS Ayrshire and Arran, compared to 308 in 2019.

94.9 per cent of patients were treated within the 62-day standard. The Scottish Government’s 62-day standard states that 95% of eligible patients will wait a maximum of 62 days from referral to first cancer treatment.

Nationally, the statistics showed that the number of referrals for the 62-day targets between April and June 2020 fell by over fifth and that not a single health board in Scotland met them.

Colin Smyth said: “The large drop in cancer referrals in Ayrshire and Arran is a serious concern. At the start of the pandemic, many NHS services and clinics were rightly stopped to prepare our health services for the serious consequences of Covid-19.

“But what really worries me is that a lot of people stopped going to see their GP during lockdown and as a result, there are people in our region whose cancer diagnosis might have been delayed.

“With the number of referrals plummeting and health boards failing to meet targets, we are running the risk of thousands of Scots receiving treatment too late and even more missing treatment all together.

“The emotional toll that long waits for treatment put on patients must be alleviated.

“The time has come for the Scottish Government to prioritise cancer services and support our amazing NHS staff to do their jobs.”

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