The study conducted at 32 hospitals show that people suffering from aggressive bowel, breast and kidney cancers are forced to wait for months. It was also reported that in an unfortunate instance, NHS Lothian had actually issued an unconditional apology to a bowel cancer patient who had waited more than 300 days between his referral and treatment.
It was reported that at 18 hospitals, a bowel cancer patients would have had to wait for around two months or more to receive any treatment. While some patients at the Wishaw General have experienced delays of more than four months. The report also shows that the patients who were diagnosed with bladder, prostate or kidney cancers at Glasgow Royal Infirmary had waited for an average of 168 days, and a patient at Falkirk and District Royal Infirmary had waited for just over a year, while patients of breast cancer at the Belford hospital in Inverness had suffered delays of about three months.
Ministers who have demanded answers from health boards have described the delays as "unacceptable". The government has already promised billions of pounds of investment in the NHS to improve their key performance targets like reduction of waiting times. The ministers have set a 2-month deadline for the treatment of the most urgent cases.
Professor Gordon McVie, one of Europe's leading cancer specialists, said the NHS has "no excuses" for routinely delaying potentially life-saving treatment. The executive officials have explained that the new figures have included non-urgent cases and some times long delays were due to patients who were too ill or frail to receive aggressive treatment.
The health minister Andy Kerr said, "Long waits are unacceptable." While stating that he has asked the cancer services across Scotland to examine the reasons for very long waits and to confirm if they were indeed clinical or other relevant reasons for long delays over six months.