Swift action must be taken to reduce prostate cancer waiting times in Fife, an MSP has said.
North East Fife MSP Willie Rennie has called for progress after new figures showed almost 40% of cancer waiting time breaches in February occurred in the region’s urology department.
The Liberal Democrat said the waits had the potential to cause harm during an already stressful time for patients and their families.
NHS Fife has blamed the delays on national staff shortages and hold-ups in some diagnostic services such as MRI scans, biopsy and appointments.
Chief Executive Paul Hawkins pointed out most people did start treatment within the target time but said work was under way to further improve matters.
In February, 85.6% of all Fife patients – 77 out of 90 – urgently referred with a suspicion of cancer started treatment within the Scottish Government’s legally-binding guaranteed time of 62 days.
Five of the 13 cases waiting beyond the target were for prostate cancer.
Mr Rennie said: “This record on cancer waiting times is concerning.
“In Fife, in February, only 85.6% of cancer patients started treatment within 62 days of an urgent suspected cancer referral, a 7.5% drop in comparison to January.
“A referral because of suspected cancer is a stressful time for patients and their families and long waits can cause significant harm to both physical and mental wellbeing.
“I hope to see progress with a swift response to these waits so we can see some improvement soon.”
Mr Hawkins said patients requiring urgent treatment for the most aggressive forms of cancer most often began treatment within a matter of days.
“Meeting the 95% performance target has proven particularly challenging over recent months due to delays in a small number of specialities,” he said.
“It is important to note, however, that the vast majority of patients continue to be seen within the 62-day standard with only a small number of those requiring non-urgent treatment waiting beyond this time.”
The chief executive said well-documented shortages nationally in urology had had an effect on Fife and elsewhere.
“Delays in some diagnostic services have increased waiting times for prostate cancer and work is under way to improve the pathway for such patients in order to reduce waiting times,” he said.