Most Scottish health boards fail to meet cancer treatment targets

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Official figures indicate that most of Scotland’s Health Boards have not met the national target for urgent cancer treatment.

The statistics show that there has been a large decline in the percentage of patients who received treatment within 62 days of urgent referral, since 2012.

Five out of the 14 NHS boards have met the target.

There was a slight decline in the percentage of patients who were consulted within 31 days of the decision to offer treatment.

The target is for 95% of patients to receive proposed treatment within 62 days after an urgent referral on suspected cancer. This was achieved in 91.5% from January to March of this year. This figure has declined from 94.6% for the previous quarter. Only NHS Dumfries and Galloway, NHS Borders, NHS Orkney, NHS Lanarkshire and NHS Ayrshire and Arran reached the compliance rate of 95%.

Only three health boards failed to meet the target of 31 days for treatment. The overall figure of 96.2% indicated a slight decline compared to the 97.9% of the previous three months. NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, NHS Highland and NHS Grampian failed to meet this target.

The Scottish government has announced an additional investment of £2.5m to help the health boards to meet their targets. Alex Neil, the health secretary, stated that more needs to be done, particularly on the 62-day target.

Scottish Conservatives described these figures as ‘disgraceful’. Jackson Carlaw, the health spokesman, said that the Scottish government has forgotten its priorities and allowing cancer patients to pay the price.

Neil Findlay, the health spokesman for Scottish Labour, said that they are bitterly disappointed that the targets have, once again, not been met. He said that a diagnosis of cancer is one the worst things a patient and their family can encounter and the waiting time for treatment, which is 39 days, is appalling.

Other statistics which have been released indicate that teenage pregnancies below the age of consent have remained the same, while pregnancies in older teenagers have decreased. Teenagers who fall in the ‘poor’ group are more likely to become pregnant than their more affluent peers.

Around 725 of the 2501 pregnancies in the poorest areas in the country were aborted during 2012, whilst 385 of the 534 pregnancies in affluent areas were aborted.

The pregnancy rate among those under the age of 16 in Scotland remained the same as 2011, at 5.6 per 1000 population. The rate for those under the age of 18 has declined from 30 during 2011 to 27.9, and in the under-20 age group it declined from 43.8 to 41.5.

NHS Fife recorded the highest rates in both those under the ages of 18 and 20, at 33.7 and 48.4 per 1000 population respectively. NHS Tayside had the highest rate in the under-16 age group at 7.8 per 1000 population. NHS Borders had the lowest rate in the under-18 and the under-20 age groups at 20.7 and 31.2 per 1000 population respectively. NHS Highland had the lowest rate in those in the under-16 age group at three per 1000.

Image Credit: Lee Haywood

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