South Ayrshire MSP Sharon Dowey has warned of a “ticking timebomb” when it comes to crucial cancer diagnostic tests in NHS Ayrshire & Arran. This comes as a reaction to the latest statistics from Public Health Scotland showing that over 140,000 patients across Scotland are now waiting to be seen for eight key diagnostic tests. These tests include upper endoscopy, lower endoscopy (excl. colonoscopy), colonoscopy, cystoscopy, CT scan, MRI scan, barium studies and non-obstetric ultrasound.
The numbers have spiralled during the pandemic and are now over 50,000 higher than they were at the end of February 2020, before COVID struck. The figures also represent a 12.5% increase on the last quarter, when more than 125,000 patients were waiting.
In NHS Ayrshire & Arran 10,934 of patients are waiting to be seen as of December 2021, a 42% increase in the last two years. The number of patients waiting to be seen have also risen by 6% since just September last year.
Audit Scotland has called the current Scottish Government’s NHS Recovery plan ‘difficult to deliver’ and lacking detail. The public spending watchdog has also warned that such targets to increase activity above pre-pandemic levels could negatively affect the desire to improve staff wellbeing.
Scottish Conservative and Unionist MSP Sharon Dowey said:
“The backlog of key diagnostic tests that has grown during the pandemic in NHS Ayrshire & Arran has now completely spiralled out of control and that is deeply concerning, as this is creating a dangerous bottleneck in the NHS.
“Patients are not being treated anywhere near quickly enough in NHS Ayrshire & Arran and cancers are at real risk of going undetected. These delays for diagnostic tests only add to the suffering of patients with underlying health problems. This is completely unacceptable as early detection plays a key role in any treatment of cancer.
“We cannot continue to see inaction from SNP Health Secretary Humza Yousaf. He must urgently outline how he plans to tackle this ever-increasing backlog in NHS Ayrshire & Arran and ensure patients are seen within target waiting times.
“Our NHS staff have gone above and beyond throughout this pandemic already. They need to be supported during the recovery process, but sadly Scottish Government’s plan could severely jeopardise their wellbeing. I don’t think that’s what our NHS staff deserves after all they’ve been through.