Colin Smyth MSP
Colin Smyth MSP

Missed cancer waiting time targets in the south of Scotland are a ‘serious concern’ according to local MSP Colin Smyth.

Figures released by Public Health Scotland on Tuesday revealed that between 1 April and 30 June 2021, there were 323 eligible referrals for cancer treatment by NHS Ayrshire and Arran, compared to 216 in 2020 in the height of the pandemic. 88.5 per cent of patients were treated within the 62-day standard, a drop from 94.9 in 2020.

Both NHS Lanarkshire and Lothian saw marked increases in the number of eligible referrals in April to June 2021, compared to the previous year and none of the health boards in the south of Scotland met the Scottish Government’s 62-day standard which states that 95% of eligible patients will wait a maximum of 62 days from referral to first cancer treatment.

Colin Smyth said: “Cancer treatment waiting time figures are a serious concern.

“For almost two years we’ve been living with Covid, and both the virus and the impact of restrictions have been devastating for thousands of families, whether they’ve lost loved ones, are suffering from the debilitating effects of Long Covid or have had appointments for other health conditions affected.

“The pandemic has had a terrible impact on every aspect of our lives but nowhere have we seen this more acutely than our NHS.

“The NHS has been battling with Covid, while also trying to treat every other health issue which it would normally face. However, after being forced to shut down huge numbers of clinics, surgeries and other services, our fantastic NHS is now facing a perfect storm.

“We are going to have to live with this virus for a long time to come and we can’t have the NHS being forced to choose between tackling the virus and treating other conditions.

“I fear we are creating a real ticking time bomb when it comes to other health conditions because NHS staff are so stretched.”

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