Beating bowel cancer together

Scottish Government launch plan to tackle the endoscopy crisis

Today the Scottish Government announce their Endoscopy Action Plan, backed by a £6 million investment. Waiting times for patients with suspected cancer will be targeted in this action plan, which will introduce new technologies, additional clinics and additional training for staff.

The plan sets out steps to ensure all new patients will be seen within six weeks for key endoscopic tests, and the most urgent patients including those suspected with cancer, will be prioritised and seen between two to three weeks.

The Endoscopy Action Plan, which covers a two year period, will sit alongside the Scottish Government’s £850 million Waiting Times Improvement Plan which was launched last year.

Claire Donaghy, Head of Scotland for Bowel Cancer UK, said: “We welcome the Scottish Government’s commitment to tackle the growing endoscopy crisis in today’s action plan. Demand for these tests in Scotland has been increasing rapidly, due to an ageing population, more awareness of symptoms and the bowel cancer screening programme. This crisis is further exacerbated due to a lack of workforce capacity and is leading to patients waiting longer and health boards breaching waiting time targets.

“Currently just under half of all patients wait more than the six week standard for tests that can diagnose bowel cancer. With early diagnosis vital to increasing bowel cancer survival, this cannot continue. We hope this action plan will allow health boards to establish sustainable endoscopy services and ensure that the most urgent patients receive access to these tests without delay.

“As a first step we would like to see the Scottish Government carry out a comprehensive assessment of endoscopy demand now and in the future, as well as a review of current workforce capacity, in order to provide a baseline for improvement.

“We are pleased that the Scottish Government will be reviewing the accreditation of endoscopy units, as this is necessary to improve the clinical quality of these life-saving tests.

“We look forward to working in partnership with the Scottish Government to implement their Endoscopy Action Plan and together we can ensure that every bowel cancer patient in Scotland has the very best opportunity for an early diagnosis.”

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