Bakers Bulletin - Support needed to meet waiting time targets for cancer patients

This week Richar Baker talks about NHS Grampian
This week Richar Baker talks about NHS Grampian

It was revealed at the end of last month that NHS Grampian have been failing to make progress on cancer waiting times. This is despite assurances that I had previously been given from the Cabinet Secretary for Health that there were measures being taken to ensure that NHS Grampian could begin to meet waiting times targets by September.

However, the figures released last month tell a different story.

They showed that the performance against the 62 referral to treatment target had not improved but worsened, with NHS Grampian only managing to treat 85.6% patients in that 62-day time period compared to 92.4% last quarter. NHS boards are expected to treat 95% of patients within this timescale.

These figures make clear that the Scottish Government is letting down patients in Grampian. It is particularly worrying that they not only show that NHS Grampian is still failing to meet Scottish Government waiting times targets on cancer treatment but that the situation is actually getting worse.

Earlier this year in a parliamentary answer I received it was revealed that NHS Grampian is the lowest funded health board in Scotland.

It is clear the effect this is having in the North-east, with NHS Grampian being the worst performer against these targets.

While we know we have some of the most committed health staff and able medical experts in the country, the Scottish Government is failing to provide our health board with the support needed to ensure that they can meet the performance levels that they expect of them.

It is clear that the problems that have been facing NHS Grampian have been resourcing issues and I have written to the Cabinet Secretary on a number of occasions to highlight this.

Without the appropriate support being provided to our health board, I cannot see this situation improving. The Cabinet Secretary has said NHS Grampian is investing £7 million to ensure waiting time targets are met by September. But it has also been revealed that NHS Grampian need to find £7.5 million of efficiencies from their staffing budget alone.

Alex Neil must now realise that this situation is not going to be resolved without additional funding from the Scottish Government and a fair deal for our health board and I will continue to push for this to be the case.