Both the SNP and Labour are pledging to set up new, fast-track, cancer diagnosis centres as part of efforts to help the NHS recover from the coronavirus crisis.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced if her party is re-elected to power in May, it will aim to set up three such new centres by this summer.
These would then be expanded over the next five years, so every health board area would have one.
She announced the new policy as she told how the SNP would “keep the NHS safe” if it wins May’s Scottish Parliament election.
The SNP leader, speaking at an online campaign conference on Monday, said: “I can announce today that as part of our cancer recovery plan, a re-elected SNP Government will establish at least one new fast track cancer diagnostic centre in every health board area.”
Meanwhile, an NHS recovery plan from Scottish Labour promised the party would “establish rapid diagnostic centres where GPs can refer patients who have suspicious but unclear symptoms to undergo tests and scans for cancer within days, not months”.
Labour said it wanted to have three of these centres set up by the end of this year, and that every health board should have one by the end of the next Parliament “so that every patient receives their diagnosis within two weeks”.
Labour’s NHS recovery plan also set out an increase in spending for mental health services, calling for the amount of money allocated to this to rise from about 8% of the overall health service budget to 11% – bringing the country in line with spending south of the border.
Scottish Labour leader, Anas Sarwar, said: “Covid has reminded us of the value of our NHS, but the past year has not come without a cost.
“Waiting times have soared, there are missing cancer patients, a growing mental health crisis, and an exhausted workforce.
“Restoring the NHS and Scotland’s health will be key to Scotland’s recovery, and we can’t go back to the old way of doing things.”
He said the plans put forward by his party “ensure we can restore our NHS”, as he insisted he was focused on providing “better public services; not settling old scores”.
Mr Sarwar added: “After the last few days, it’s clear that only Scottish Labour is focused on what unites us so that together we can build a stronger recovery for a fairer Scotland.”