NHS Scotland does cancer scans TWICE as fast as Ireland’s health system

Some folk are bit too keen to smugly tell you that, based on Betteridge’s Law, a headline ending in a question mark can always be answered with a resounding NO.

I don’t subscribed to such a rigid view but in this case it’s true.

You do need to read down a bit in this bland anon piece, with no analysis I note, to find:

Long waits for potentially life-saving diagnostic tests are common in Ireland, as they are in Scotland. The two countries have similar populations but very different health systems.

The Irish Cancer Society estimates that more than 200,000 people were waiting for scans, such as MRIs or ultrasounds, at end of 2022 – with 60% waiting more than three months.

Data from Public Health Scotland shows 114,061 patients were waiting for scans here, with almost 60,000 of them waiting longer than the six-week target.

Healthcare systems everywhere face huge challenges post-pandemic.

Of course, the sums are not done because they’re very good for Scotland.

See that 60% of 200 000 waiting more than 3 months for a scan in Ireland? That’s 120 000 compared to the 60 000 waiting longer than only 1.5 months, a more demanding target by some way, in Scotland.

We can say that:

  1. almost twice as many are on the cancer scan waiting lists in Ireland;
  2. more than twice as many wait beyond the targets for cancer treatment in Ireland’s healthcare system;
  3. the Irish 3 month target compared to the Scottish 6 week target for a scan is putting lives at risk;
  4. if we could compare the 1.5 months and 3 months waits in both countries, it seems certain that NHS Scotland would come out even better.

And, the two populations are not that similar. Scotland’s 5.44 million is significantly higher than Ireland’s 5.03 million, making the above figures even more favourable to Scotland.

Within the UK?

Cancer waiting times: NHS Scotland 20% better than NHS England and 44% better than NHS Wales:




6 thoughts on “NHS Scotland does cancer scans TWICE as fast as Ireland’s health system

  1. Went into A&E on a Sunday morning with severe abdominal pain and sickness, was in theatre at 7pm for a laparotomy. Chemo just finished and MRI scan done within three weeks of my last appointment at the Beatson. Getting the results of the scan and probable sign off in a fortnight. Nothing but great care and kindness to report. Jackie Baillie and others take note!


  2. The (dark) art of BBC headline writers assigned to work on articles for the BBC News website is a thing to behold! But sometimes the information they opt NOT to use in a headline is as revealing as what they actually choose.

    I came across an article on the BBC site published at the time of release of NHS England performance stats for February 2023. It had this headline: ‘Doctors’ strike threatens tackling backlog, warn NHS bosses’.

    See https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-64827249

    Reading through the article – written by BBC health specialist, Nick Triggle – I spotted this revelation half way down:

    ‘Performance in cancer care did deteriorate, however, with just 54% of patients starting treatment within two months following an urgent referral by a GP – that is the worst on record.’

    ‘PERFORMANCE IN CANCER’ and ‘WORST ON RECORD’ – nothing much to see here? Obviously not headline news!

    We do get – a not so very strongly worded – response to this revelation in the article though: ‘Minesh Patel, of Macmillan Cancer Support, said the delays were “deeply concerning”. Regarding political comment, there is – of course – none!

    In another BBC News article on cancer treatment published earlier in March – headlined ‘Key cancer waiting time target set to be missed in England’ – we learn the following:

    ‘The latest figures (for NHS England) show that, in December 2022, 61.8% of patients started treatment within 62-days, up slightly from 61% the previous month.’

    But unlike with BBC Scotland output, readers (in England?) MUST BE PROVIDED it seems with perspective. The article goes on:

    ‘Other parts of the UK have been under similar pressure:

    ‘In Scotland, the latest quarterly data shows that 75% of those referred started cancer treatment within 62 days – the worst figures since the standard was set in 2012

    ‘In Northern Ireland, just 40% of cancer patients started treatment within the 62 day target, in the three months to June 2022

    ‘While in Wales, performance has deteriorated over the last year, with just over half of all patients now starting their first treatment within two months of cancer first being suspected.’

    ‘Similar pressures’ yes but it is stretching things to imply that performance metrics of 6.1.8%, 75%, 40% and ‘just over half’ are ‘similar’!

    And it is noteworthy that for the best performing NHS in the four nations – NHS Scotland – its ‘worst ever’ performance is still substantially better than the performance of the others!

    So once more we find evidence that flies in the face of the unqualified negative narrative – context and perspective free – concerning NHS Scotland and associated Scottish Government oversight, a narrative created and sustained by the corporate media, the BBC and opposition politicians in Holyrood. (And arguably, a negativity reinforced in the past week by an SNP leadership contender – albeit in subsequent hustings there seems, thankfully, to be some strenuous ‘rowing back’ going on!)

    Undermining a reputation for competent government is one important plank of efforts to end SNP government in Scotland. But, crucially, too many voters in Scotland will know NOTHING of the positive evidence reported daily here on TuS.

    (Whilst on here, and to a wider point, let’s hope that now folk in England are being woken up to the true nature of BBC ‘partiality’, more people in Scotland will be inclined to heed what TuS and others have been exposing – with evidence – about BBC Scotland’s news and current affairs output!)

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Paid healthcare in IR. There are exemptions. €60 for Drs appointment, €100 hospital appointment.

    Higher pensions and benefits.


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