Cancer detection figures released last Tuesday (26 October) show a 20 per cent drop in patients diagnosed at an early stage of cancer in 2019 and 2020 combined, compared with numbers from 2010 and 2011, by NHS Ayrshire and Arran.

To help monitor performance towards the Detect Cancer Early Local Delivery Plan standard, the proportion of patients diagnosed at an early stage of disease (stage 1) for year 9 (2019 and 2020 combined), is compared with that of the baseline (2010 and 2011 combined).

The percentage of patients with cancer diagnosed with stage 1 disease can vary because of a number of factors including the presence and uptake of national screening programmes.

Colin Smyth said: “These figures for NHS Ayrshire and Arran are shocking.

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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