Beating bowel cancer together

Endoscopy workforce crisis could hamper Scottish cancer strategy

Thursday 17 January 2019

Concerns raised that staff shortages and increased waiting times could derail the Scottish government’s cancer strategy.

A new report, which was put together by a cross-party group of MSPs, charities and patient representatives, examines the effectiveness of the Scottish government's five-year cancer strategy at its halfway stage, citing still increasing cancer patient waiting times as an area for concern.

The blueprint for improving care for the 32,000 Scottish patients diagnosed with cancer every year has made significant progress in areas such as prevention and improving survival. However due to a shortage of clinicians trained in areas like endoscopy, waiting times are continuing to rise.

Waiting times are a vital part of the patient pathway – the sooner a patient is diagnosed the earlier they can start treatment or receive the ‘all clear’, which will alleviate their fears.

Claire Donaghy, Head of Scotland for Bowel Cancer UK, says: “As we approach the halfway point for the Scottish government’s cancer strategy five year plan, some progress has been made, more still needs to be done to drastically improve waiting times for patients. This is of particular concern for those with bowel cancer. More than half of Scottish health boards are in breach of standard waiting times, leaving over 5,000 patients on average per month waiting longer than six weeks for a colonoscopy. We also need to attract nursing and medical workforce to this specialism in order to meet the target to increase nurse endoscopists by 40%.

“With the cancer strategy failing to deliver in this area, the Scottish Government must publish their plan of action to tackle the growing endoscopy crisis. Until this plan is implemented, patients will continue to wait too long for tests that can diagnose bowel cancer.”

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