Scotland’s Health Secretary has admitted “more work” is needed to cut waiting times for cancer patients in the north-east.
Figures released earlier this year show a quarter of north-east patients have had to wait more than 62 days to begin treatment following an urgent GP referral for suspected cancer.
The latest statistics, from January to March 2019, show 76.4% of patients received their first treatment within 62 days – against a Scottish Government target of 95% and below the Scottish average of 81.4%.
Speaking to the Evening Express, Health Secretary Jeane Freeman said while the 31-day target has seen an improvement, the 62-day target needs “more work”.
But she added she is “absolutely committed” to tackling the waiting time target, particularly for those in urgent need.
Ms Freeman announced an £850 million strategy in October last year to shorten waiting times for people receiving medical procedures.
The plan aims to “substantially and sustainably” improve waiting times for patient appointments, as well as day cases, by spring 2021.
Ms Freeman said: “I think we’re beginning to see some improvements from the additional investment we’ve made and we’ve made more investment in this financial year.
“That is targeted at two things: those who are waiting longest so they are seen quickly and it’s also targeted at what we would describe as urgent cases and into that comes the cancer waiting times.
“I’ve seen an improvement in the 31-day target across our health boards in Scotland. The 62-day target needs more work done, but I’m absolutely committed to that.
“The plan I introduced a year ago is a three-year plan and I’m sticking with it all the way through to make sure we get waiting times for all our patients, but particularly those in urgent need, to where we need them to be.”
An NHS Grampian spokeswoman said: “We are absolutely committed to improving our cancer performance.
“The additional funding is very welcome and will allow us to improve access to diagnostic tests.
“We still have significant challenges recruiting to key clinical posts but hopefully this will improve over the next year.”