Highlands and Islands MSP learns how early diagnosis can beat cancer sooner


Photo:  Rhoda with Jonathan Roden, who is Public Affairs Officer (Scotland) for Cancer Research UK.

MSP Rhoda Grant met Cancer Research UK staff at the Scottish Labour party conference in Dundee last week, to learn about the charity’s priorities for beating cancer sooner in Scotland

“Like everywhere in Scotland, cancer has a huge effect on families in the Highlands and Islands so it has been fantastic to meet with the Cancer Research UK team to hear more about their priorities for diagnosing patients sooner in Scotland,” said Mrs Grant, who represents the region.

Mrs Grant heard about Cancer Research UK’s latest campaign, which urges the Scottish Government to address shortages in the diagnostic workforce in Scotland.

The earlier a cancer is diagnosed the more likely it is to be treated successfully. For some of the most common types of cancer, survival is more than three times likely higher when the disease is diagnosed at its earliest stages.

Yet statistics show that more than 18,000 patients in Scotland waited more than the target time of six weeks to receive a diagnostic test in the quarter ending 38 December 2018.*

The report also shows that, during the same quarter, only 78.1% of patients received the tests they needed within six weeks. The target is that no one should be waiting longer than six weeks for a test.

Gordon Matheson, Public Affairs Manager for Scotland at Cancer Research UK, said: “the NHS is under continued strain with too many patients still waiting too long for tests, some of which could detect cancer”.

“With a welcome focus on screening and early detection of cancer, there’s an urgent need to comprehensively address workforce shortages.”

“Much needed investment in this area is beginning to emerge and it’s vital we see a strong emphasis on making sure we have enough staff to meet increasing patient need, and that existing staff are being used to their best potential.”


* The statistics reflect the waiting times for all diagnostic services in Scotland, including those that affect cancer patients.
The full ISD Scotland report can be found here: https://www.isdscotland.org/Health-Topics/Waiting-Times/Publications/2019-02-26/2019-02-26-WT-Diagnostic-Report.pdf
Diagnostic Test & Investigation 31 Dec 18 (current) 30 Sep 18
31 Dec 17
Key Diagnostic Tests & Investigations 78.1 78.1
All Endoscopy 57 56 56.9
All Radiology 88.1 59.2 90.6

Please be advised that these figures should not be compared between Health Boards, as some of them may have a small number of patients that could lead to variations.

Health Board Waiting within 6 week Standard (%)
NHS Ayrshire & Arran 65.1
NHS Borders 61
NHS Dumfries & Galloway 97.6
NHS Fife 98.4
NHS Forth Valley 98.1
NHS Golden Jubilee National Hospital 100.0
NHS Grampian 67.7
NHS Greater Glasgow & Clyde 76.1
NHS Highland 74.3
NHS Lanarkshire 97.4
NHS Lothian 66.2
NHS Orkney 96.8
NHS Shetland 100.0
NHS Tayside 90.9
NHS Western Isles 69.6

About Cancer Research UK

• Cancer Research UK is the world’s leading cancer charity dedicated to saving lives through research.
• Cancer Research UK’s pioneering work into the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of cancer has helped save millions of lives.
• Cancer Research UK receives no government funding for its life-saving research. Every step it makes towards beating cancer relies on every donation made.
• Cancer Research UK has been at the heart of the progress that has already seen survival in the UK double in the last 40 years.
• Today, 2 in 4 people survive their cancer for at least 10 years. Cancer Research UK’s ambition is to accelerate progress so that by 2034, 3 in 4 people will survive their cancer for at least 10 years.
• Cancer Research UK supports research into all aspects of cancer through the work of over 4,000 scientists, doctors and nurses.
• Together with its partners and supporters, Cancer Research UK’s vision is to bring forward the day when all cancers are cured.

For further information about Cancer Research UK’s work or to find out how to support the charity, please call 0300 123 1022 or visit www.cancerresearchuk.org. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook