Cancer waiting times well ahead of targets

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Waiting times figures published today show cancer waits are beating targets more than a year ahead of schedule – with even more patients included.

ISD Scotland’s new cancer waiting times statistics show 97.3 per cent of patients urgently referred with a suspicion of cancer between July and September started treatment within 62 days. The target was introduced at the beginning of this year and all health boards are expected to meet it by December 2011 – meaning it is on target ahead of schedule.

The figures also show 98.1 per cent of cancer patients started treatment within 31 days of a decision being taken to treat – the second time performance against this target has been published and the second time it has been met. Half of these patients started treatment within a week of that decision.

These figures are the first to include patients referred through the breast, bowel or cervical cancer screening programmes. Previous statistics have recorded only patients urgently referred with a suspicion of cancer by their GP or dentist or through Accident and Emergency.

Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon said:

“One in three people will experience cancer at some point in their lifetime, and we know that screening, early diagnosis and early treatment all help improve the chances of a better outcome.

“That’s why these cancer figures are good news for all of us. These targets were introduced to help improve care for cancer patients and boards were given two years to meet them but they’re already beating them – progress we now want to see maintained.

“Including people referred through Scotland’s screening programme in the target means around 600 more people every quarter are also now covered by these targets, but the NHS has risen to this challenge.

“Thousands of health service staff work extremely hard to provide this excellent standard of care. They are saving and improving lives day in, day out and all of us are very grateful for the contribution they make.”