A £100 million strategy setting out services to provide cancer care in Scotland over the next five to 10 years has been announced by the Health Secretary.
The plan unveiled by Shona Robison contains more than 50 actions to tackle the disease by improving prevention, detection, diagnosis, treatment and after care.
It includes £50 million for radiotherapy equipment and to support recruitment and training, an additional £10 million to support swift access to diagnostics for people with suspected cancer, and £5 million to support waiting times performance.
The Beating Cancer: Ambition and Action strategy was launched during an event in Edinburgh with Cancer Research UK.
Also covered is £9 million over five years to ensure better support for people with cancer and their families, £5 million to target reducing inequalities in screening uptake, £7.5 million to support improvements in surgical treatments, and £3.5 million to drive improvements across the palliative care sector.
Ms Robison said the strategy will serve as a blueprint for the future of cancer services in Scotland.
“Cancer services have come a long way over the past 10 years, with cancer mortality rates down 11%, however we know more needs to be done,” she said.
“Through this strategy we are aiming to reduce health inequalities and improve the experience of and outcomes for people with cancer across Scotland.
“This strategy sets out our actions on detecting cancer early, with a particular focus on reducing inequalities in screening. It also sets out how we will invest in the provision of good quality, sustainable treatment and support for people to live well with and beyond cancer.”
Gregor McNie, of Cancer Research UK, said the commitments outlined are “good news for patients” and will be closely monitored “to make sure they become a reality”.
He added: “Scotland’s cancer survival still lags behind its UK and European neighbours and this strategy sets out strong ambitions and investment to help tackle this.
“The continued focus on early diagnosis is vital – funds to make sure all patients get the diagnostic tests they need should ensure they are treated without delay.
“New money for radiotherapy, including expansion of the workforce, will address the unfulfilled potential of Scotland’s world-class equipment, so that no patient misses out on effective treatment.
“But as more people get cancer, we need action to prevent the disease and brave new measures will be needed over the coming years.”
Janice Preston, head of Macmillan Cancer Support in Scotland, said: “We are particularly pleased to see a £9 million fund has been set aside to fund support services modelled on Macmillan’s Improving the Cancer Journey project. We hope to see the huge success of this project replicated across Scotland to make sure no cancer patient in Scotland misses out on vital support.”