SNP urged to focus on removing record waiting list for cancer patients


SNP ministers have been urged to focus on ending record cancer wait times instead of telling patients waiting for life-saving treatment to get fit and healthy as they face a agonizing wait for help.

Cancer patients will be encouraged to exercise and eat healthy before treatment as part of a new Scottish Government pilot program with wait times of up to two years.

With only 83% of suspected cancer patients starting emergency treatment within the two-month target, the government will test ‘pre-adaptation’ to offer nutrition, exercise and mental health counseling while they wait. .

Pre-treatment support will be provided at Maggie’s eight cancer centers across Scotland, with the pilot project being funded by the Scottish Government.

But opposition PSMs called for “much greater urgency” from SNP ministers and a focus on clearing the backlog of cancer patients facing long wait times for treatment. treatment, exacerbated by the pandemic.

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Labor spokesperson Jackie Baillie said: “All efforts to improve the chances of cancer patients are welcome, but while early diagnosis remains essential, the huge backlog of missing diagnoses and delays in screening are of great concern.

“We need actions to enable rapid diagnosis and treatment of people with cancer. This was originally promised in the December cancer plan, but is only now being implemented. try. We need to see a much greater urgency on the part of the SNP. ”

Scottish Conservative public health spokesperson Dr Sandesh Gulhane added: ‘Many patients and their families are suffering from cancer, and I applaud all efforts by the SNP government to help these patients improve their results of their treatment.

However, nothing will improve outcomes more than getting treatment early. Wait times are at an all time high, and many of the patients I see are deteriorating and struggling to cope.

“The SNP government must do whatever is necessary to resolve the large treatment backlog as quickly as possible and get the Scottish NHS back on line. they will be forced to wait for life-saving treatment.

He said: “I am happy to see the government take more interest in these services which can help prepare patients for what they have in front of them.

“The big challenge for the government now is to catch up with the backlog of screening appointments and tackle the months of missed cancer cases that the pandemic has generated.

“People need an accurate assessment of how long they can expect to wait for treatment, not just warm words and empty promises.

“We also need to see action on the appointment of a Patient Safety Commissioner. It has been almost a year since an inter-party agreement was reached on this. The government should now move forward.”

Health Secretary Humza Yousaf visited Maggie’s Dundee center to initiate the “pre-rehabilitation” project.

He said: “Pre-adaptation enables people with cancer to prepare physically and mentally for treatment by adopting healthy behaviors – with the ultimate goal of improving outcomes for them.

“It can reduce length of hospital stay and post-treatment complications, and improve recovery, fitness, nutritional status, neurocognitive function and quality of life.

“This pilot program will help us understand how the NHS and the Third Sector can work together to help people before their cancer treatment.”

He added: “With eight centers across Scotland, working with Maggie’s allows us to meet the needs of cancer patients close to home.

“We want to empower them to get the best possible results from their treatment and improve their long-term health.

“Cancer treatment has remained a top priority for the Scottish Government and NHS Scotland throughout the Covid-19 pandemic. ”

Maggie Managing Director Dame Laura Lee added: “We are delighted to be working with the Scottish Government to help people with new cancer diagnoses understand the benefits of making changes before treatment begins.

“Gentle exercise, good nutrition, and emotional and psychological support are already aspects of Maggie’s basic support program – but it usually comes after the patient has started treatment.

“This new project will ensure that those newly diagnosed find support sooner and be implemented while working with the NHS as part of their overall care plan.”

Of the 3,601 patients referred urgently for treatment for suspected cancer in the first trimester of the year, 2,988 (83%) started treatment within 62 days.

The latest statistics from NHS Scotland also show a 2.9% increase in the number of cancer patients in the first three months of 2021 compared to the previous quarter, although it is still 6.1% lower in the quarter. ending March 31, 2020.

The average wait time was 43 days, although the maximum recorded wait was 244 days.

Across Scotland, the Scottish Government’s target of 95% eligible patients awaiting treatment has only been met by two boards of health: the NHS Shetland and the NHS Borders.

However, once the decision to treat the cancer was made, 97.7% of patients started treatment within 31 days, with an average wait of five days.

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