Thank you for getting in touch regards the #SpotLeukaemia campaign, organised by Leukaemia Care and Leukaemia UK, as part of Blood Cancer Awareness Month.
It is vitally important that we get the message out far and wide that leukaemia is a form of blood cancer that affects people of all ages, with early detection crucial in fighting this terrible disease. It is worrying to learn from Public Health Scotland (PHS) that the number of leukaemia cases recorded in 2020 (the most recent data) was lower than expected, thereby suggesting the pandemic has resulted in missed diagnoses. This reaffirms the need to ensure that the public are aware of the signs and symptoms of leukaemia.
It should be remembered that cancer remains Scotland’s biggest killer. Since the start of the pandemic, for example, over 39,000 people in Scotland have died from cancer. Regrettably, SNP Health Ministers are failing patients with waiting times for diagnostic tests and urgent cancer referrals remaining far too long.
Scottish Labour is committed to ensuring that all patients have the best possible access to NHS cancer treatment. In our National Recovery Plan, we argued that by the end of this parliament there should be a Rapid Diagnostic Centre in every health board so that every patient receives their diagnosis and starts treatment within a maximum of two weeks. In the longer term, we need an ambitious new cancer strategy with clear and measurable targets for a period of five years, backed up by the funding needed to drive change and support life-saving research. This includes ensuring that every cancer patient has a dedicated cancer support worker so they can access the personalised care and support they need.
The #SpotLeukaemia campaign is a timely reminder that early diagnosis saves lives. Whilst we must continue to spread awareness of the signs and symptoms of leukaemia to the public, it’s also critically important that we ensure our NHS services are properly supported to fight cancer and give patients the best chance of survival.