One-in-five patients who have suspected cervical cancer have to wait longer than the target two months for treatment, it has been revealed.
Latest figures show that 22% were not seen to in the 62-day timeframe set out by the Scottish Government for urgent referral to the start of treatment.
The statistics follow reports that cervical screening rates across Scotland plummeted by almost half in the last year.
The latest data shows that, in the quarter to June 2021, 12% of patients were forced to wait between 63 and 83 days, while a further 10% were delayed by 84 days or more.
The rates have remained broadly similar throughout the pandemic, and were slightly higher in the months before Covid-19 hit.
The Scottish Government’s own targets state that “95% of eligible patients should wait a maximum of 62 days from urgent suspicion of cancer referral to first cancer treatment”.
Pamela Nash, chief executive of Scotland in Union, said:
“Campaigns to encourage more people to come forward for cervical cancer screening are very welcome, but these figures show that too many are waiting too long for treatment to start.
“The longer the treatment takes, the worse the outcome is going to be, causing huge anxiety for patients and their families.
“We know that we face a huge backlog when it comes to cancer treatment because of the pandemic, but many of the problems already existed and are the result of SNP government inaction in the years before.
“The SNP has neglected the health service while it pursues its constitutional obsession.
“This year, the government must focus on the priorities of the people of Scotland and provide our NHS with the resources it needs.”
The full report is available here.
Concern was raised after screening rates fell by almost half over the last year. See here.