Page last updated at 11:38 GMT, Tuesday, 16 February 2010

Scottish target beaten for cancer waiting times

Patient having chemotherapy
The 2011 aim is for all cancer patients to start treatment within 31 days

NHS Scotland has beaten its target for the treatment of urgent cancer cases, new figures have shown.

A total of 96% of patients who were urgently referred and subsequently diagnosed with cancer in June-September 2009 were treated within 62 days.

The national target is 95% and the Scottish government said this has now been met each quarter since October-December 2008.

Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon said this showed significant improvement.

The comparable figure a year ago was 94.6%. It was 84.5% in the first quarter of 2007.

Ms Sturgeon said: "This progress has now been sustained for a whole year and today's figures show the average wait is 35 days, meaning the majority of patients urgently referred are actually treated within six weeks.

"Staff across the health service worked extremely hard to achieve this milestone for the first time at the end of 2008, and they have continued to work very hard indeed to keep this progress going.

"But we know there's more to do and are working towards new targets by the end of 2011, including the ambitious goal to start treatment for all cancer patients within 31 days of their decision to treat."

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