The SNP has been accused of presiding over a “lost decade” of NHS treatment that has seen ovarian cancer rates in Scotland “among the worst in Europe”.
The Scottish Conservative leader pressed the First Minister after details provided through freedom of information requests showed a patient in the NHS Grampian area had a 156-day wait for treatment.
Speaking at FMQs, Douglas Ross said another patient, from Lanarkshire, spent £27k of her life savings to pay for private care in England after facing a three-month wait on the NHS.
He said the woman feared she would not have enough time to wait for treatment in Scotland.
“People need urgent treatment to save their lives but in the SNP-run NHS they wait months,” he told Humza Yousaf.
Ross also brought up the case of a woman from Ayr who faced a wait of 12 weeks for cancer treatment which left her feeling “powerless”.
The First Minister said the government treats the issue of ovarian cancer with the “utmost seriousness”.
“The treatment of cancer, the early diagnosis and treatment of cancer is absolutely a number one priority,” he said.
He said more than 90% of women receive their first treatment for ovarian cancer care within 31 days of a decision.
Yousaf added that the Scottish Government has continued to invest in the NHS, adding an extra £1bn this year, while there had also been a nearly 100% increase in oncologists since the SNP came to power.
Scottish Labour also attacked the First Minister over NHS cancer wait times on Thursday.
Anas Sarwar accused the Scottish Government of becoming “complacent against Scotland’s biggest killer” as NHS staff are “stretched to breaking point”.
He asked Yousaf to take responsibility for what he said was a “lost decade on the SNP’s watch” that resulted in “avoidable and unnecessary deaths”.
Data from Public Health Scotland this week showed that between April and June this year, less than three-quarters (73.7%) of patients referred with an urgent suspicion of cancer started getting treatment within the Scottish Government’s target time of 62 days.
Meanwhile, a freedom of information request showed one in four cancer patients is facing delays in care.
None of Scotland’s health boards had managed to reach the 62-day standard for cancer treatment, according to the figures.
Yousaf said the Government had not become complacent on the issue.
“We are recovering from a global pandemic, that pandemic has had an impact not just on our health service but of our cancer services,” Yousaf said.
He said Scotland’s NHS is treating more patients than it did ten years ago – despite the impact of austerity measures imposed by the UK Government.
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