Marlyn Glen MSP

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Scottish Labour MSP for North East Scotland

NHS Tayside “on track” to meet new cancer treatment target next year.

9 July 2010

Marlyn Glen has been informed by the Scottish Government that NHS Tayside are “on track” for delivery for the new 31-day target for cancer waiting times to be achieved by December 2011.

Ms. Glen had asked Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon what extra resources NHS Tayside will receive from the Scottish Government to ensure that by the end of next year all patients diagnosed with cancer, regardless of the route of referral, should receive treatment within 31 days from the clinical decision to treat.

The 2008 Scottish Government plan Better Cancer Care: An Action Plan stated :

“Radiotherapy requires a mix of skills from a range of staff, including clinical oncologists, therapeutic radiographers, medical physicists, healthcare scientists, nurses, radiotherapy assistants, helpers and administrative and clerical staff.

“A priority for workforce planning is to redesign the radiotherapy workforce through a focus on skills and competence (rather than job titles) in order to address staff shortages and recruitment difficulties in some areas….

“A key priority for workforce planning will be to ensure that plans for the surgical workforce include, not only the need for surgical consultants and trainee surgeons, but also those for the wider multidisciplinary team, including nursing and allied health professionals (AHP) staff in wards and theatres, pharmacy, healthcare scientists and facilities staff. ”

Ms. Glen said that cancer patients in England already have the 31 day guarantee, and she asked what lessons had been learned from England that would benefit NHS Tayside and Scotland.

Welcoming the view expressed by the Health Secretary, Ms Glen said,

“Speedier access to therapy is very important as the waiting time for cancer treatment to begin can be one of great anxiety and distress.”

Ms. Glen added that since devolution the health services in Scotland and England had set out their own priorities.

In Scotland , she said, emphasis had been given to cutting deaths from cancer and heart disease while in England reductions in waiting times for hospital treatment was a major objective.

Ms. Sturgeon replied,

” In August 2009, the Cancer Access Team met with counterparts in the National Cancer Action Team in England to discuss their implementation strategy an lessons learned in the course of achieving performance against targets .

“The Cancer Access Team in Scotland continues to monitor English targets

“NHS Tayside has outlined what it considers its risks to delivery of the targets to be through its Local Delivery Plan and how it intends to manage those risks.”

“We are content that NHS Tayside is taking all necessary steps to ensure patients are treated safely and timeously, and is on track for delivery of the new 31-day target by December 2011”

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