Cancer waiting times – Scots suffer worst journalism on record

Scotland’s so-called newspapers have followed quickly on from BBC Scotland to froth over a fall of 3.4% in those seen within 62 days from urgent suspicion of cancer referral to first cancer treatment, at the same time as referrals increased by 2.3%. Not good, I agree, but not, as ever, the full picture from these supposed information providers.

They have not reported on the news, on the same day, that the target of 95% was almost met, with 94.1% treated within 31 days, from decision to treat to first cancer treatment.

They have not reported the fall in cancelled operations to almost zero nor that monthly A&E figures have improved for the second month running to be 23% better than NHS England.

More important, they have not reported that NHS Scotland’s is performing 37% better than NHS England on cancer waiting times:

From UK Parliament research briefings on 13 March 2023, in NHS England:

The 62-day waiting time standard for cancer (measured from urgent GP referral to
treatment) has not been met in recent years. Performance declined between 2013 and 2018. Since
the pandemic it has fallen further, with 54.4% of patients waiting under 62 days for treatment in
January 2023 (target: 85%).

From Public Health Scotland on 13 December 2022:

74.7% of patients started treatment within the 62-day standard, compared with 76.3% in the previous quarter, 83.3% in the quarter ending 30 September 2021, and 83.7% in the quarter ending 31 December 2019

74.7% is 37.3% better than 54.4%.

Remember that’s more than a third of more than 4 000 patients seen within target in Scotland and more than a third 40 000 waiting beyond the target in England.

This matters. Staff are demoralised and patients are frightened. The writers should be ashamed.


8 thoughts on “Cancer waiting times – Scots suffer worst journalism on record

  1. Totally agree John
    This is demoralising for staff and putting fear into patients
    The NHS in Scotland is outperforming the NHS in England,Wales and Northern Ireland in all areas
    We need the Scottish Government to highlight the positives and to get the message out that NHS services will deteriorate unless we become an independent country in charge of our own finances and decision making

    Liked by 2 people

  2. The only delay I’ve encountered in my cancer treatment is with the results of my last scan which was really only a ‘belt & braces’ check. Otherwise, everything has gone smoothly and considering I went into A&E with pain and vomiting and was operated on that very evening (a Sunday to boot), I certainly have not complaints!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. “Staff are demoralised and patients are frightened”

    And who are among the principal contributors to this demoralisation? It is the ‘top’ medics in the health service unions which have high falutin names, who make alarmist press releases to ‘journalists’ and the consultants who attend dinner parties at which there are BBC presenters.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Journalists don’t care about how their work is perceived it’s all about disaster journalism, they seem to believe the worse a story is the more people will want to read it. Our journalists need to take a good look at themselves – I’m quite sure they are one of the major contributors to mental health absences in the health service and why there are so many student vacancies unfilled for nursing due to the constant bad press the profession gets.

    Don’t care I’m all right Jack just doing the job!!

    They’ll all be having orgasms over the news that Peter Murrell has been arrested and how much they can spin that as SNP bad

    Liked by 2 people

  5. The problem is ‘journalist’ now write stories to suit their owners political views and to maximise the number of readers. If that means ‘spinning’ the story to the point of lying or making it as salacious as possible, they appear to think that’s okay. They do not care about any personal or societal damage being done as long as they get patted on the head by said owner.
    The age of the ‘client journalist’ (which is an oxymoron) has to brought to an end.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Indeed, the situation is so serious that it even overrode That Nice Mr Sarwar’s (not-allowed-to-make-any) comments on that police investigation.

    He said “”I think of course there are big questions to ask of both Nicola Sturgeon and Humza Yousaf about what they knew and when, but of course the police need to be allowed to do their job.

    “What I would say though is, this isn’t the biggest news story of the week – the biggest news story of the week is the fact that we have the worst ever waiting times for cancer treatment in our country, in our history.

    So. When he says “our country” is he:
    a) Actually acknowledging that Scotland is, indeed, a country in its own right.
    b) Ignoring the figures for the rest of the Yookay?
    c) Demonstrating that he’s just talking for the sake of flapping his lips?
    d) some combination of the above?

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Arguably the 62 day target is less important as it relates to everyone referred with “urgent suspicion of cancer “, the vast majority of whom do not have cancer. They are referred in huge numbers by GPS and practice nurses who are now grossly risk averse. Once the cancer patients are detected, it is rather amazing that they are then treated so quickly, with a median time to treatment of 4.5 days!


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