NHS Fife missing cancer treatment time targets, show figures

NHS Fife is among Scotland’s worst performing health boards when it comes to hitting cancer treatment time targets, according to new figures.

Friday, 1st October 2021, 4:40 pm
Updated Friday, 1st October 2021, 4:41 pm

Figures for the last quarter show that only 80.3% of eligible patients began treatment within 62 days of receiving an urgent referral with suspicion of cancer, well below the target of 95%.

Of the mainland health boards, only NHS Highland had a lower rate.

Mark Ruskell, Scottish Green MSP for Mid Scotland and Fife, said: “Being referred for cancer treatment is a stressful and worrying time in anyone’s life.

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“That’s why it’s so important that treatment begins as soon as possible, and it’s cause for concern that targets aren’t being met in Fife.

“As we begin to recover from the pandemic, it’s vital that resources are put in place to support NHS Fife in ensuring treatment time targets are met and that cancer patients have the peace of mind they need.”

NHS Fife’s Director of Acute Services, Claire Dobson, acknowledged that the situation had been “challenging”.

She said: “We know the importance of early intervention in improving outcomes for patients with cancer and we want to minimise the time it takes to detect and diagnose cancers in order that treatment can be initiated as soon as possible.

“The 62-day performance target has proven particularly challenging over recent months due to issues affecting a small number of few specialities; however, the vast majority of patients continue to begin treatment within 62 days of initial referral, with patients requiring urgent treatment for the most aggressive forms of cancer most often commencing within a matter of days. Importantly, we continued to meet the 31-day performance target, with 99% of patients commencing treatment within 31 days of the decision the treat.

“Earlier this year Fife was chosen as one of the pilot sites for the introduction of the new Early Cancer Diagnostic Centres, which we expect will help us improve clinical pathways for patients with possible cancers, ensure patients have earlier access to diagnostic testing and is enable greater numbers of patients to be diagnosed at an earlier stage in the disease.”