One in five wait too long for diagnostic tests

Leading cancer charity calls for more staff to tackle diagnostic delays

Tuesday 27th August 2019

NHS statistics released today show almost one in five Scots are waiting longer than the six-week target waiting time for a series of key diagnostic tests.

At the end of June 2019, nearly 90,000 Scots were waiting for one of eight key tests – such as CT scans, MRIs and endoscopies – used to detect serious illnesses including cancer.

The figures show just 81.6% of patients received the tests they needed in the promised six weeks.

This represents a slight dip on the previous quarter, January to the end of March, when 84% of patients got their diagnostic tests in the target deadline.

Cancer Research UK says health service vacancies lie behind the delays.

Gordon Matheson, the charity’s public affairs manager for Scotland, said: “The uncertainty of whether or not you have cancer is an anxious time and these stats show too many people are waiting too long for the tests that diagnose the disease.

“Radiology and endoscopy services are crucial in the diagnosis of cancer, as well as other diseases. It’s clear these services are struggling to keep up with increasing demand.

“This is because too many key posts, such as radiologists and endoscopists, remain unfilled year after year. Demand is also rising as more people develop cancer and welcome efforts are put in to improving the early detection of cancer.

“A new approach to workforce planning is also needed so there are enough key staff to provide the best possible care for the patients of the future. Without it we will not be able to detect cancer early and improve the outcome for patients.”