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Parliamentary Debates and Questions

S5W-11998: Alex Cole-Hamilton (Edinburgh Western)

Scottish Liberal Democrats

Date lodged: 12 October 2017

To ask the Scottish Government what its response is to the Royal College of Radiologists paper, Clinical radiology UK workforce census 2016 report, which suggests that, in Scotland, a shortage of radiologists has led to scans not being read for weeks, and that some of these scans reported the presence of cancer cells.

Answered by: Shona Robison 13 November 2017

While the Scottish Government sets strategic policies for the NHS in Scotland, it is for each NHS Board to decide best how to deliver high quality, safe and sustainable services to meet the needs of its population. We fully expect NHS Boards to plan their workforce to ensure that enough professional staff and facilities are available to provide the best possible care for patients in a variety of settings.

Under this Government, the number of consultants with a specialty of clinical radiology in NHSScotland have increased by 41.9 per cent to 317.2 Whole Time Equivalent. We have also increased radiology training places by 20 per cent in the last four years.

Cancer waiting times data for the second quarter of 2017 shows that 94.8% of cancer patients across Scotland received treatment within 31 days of a decision to treat, with the average wait being only 6 days. The Scottish Government are actively engaging NHS Boards where there are challenges to sustained delivery against the 62-day standard.

Our new Ministerial Cancer Performance Delivery Group will focus on driving forward improvements in waiting times for diagnosis and treatment for cancer patients. Backed by an additional £1 million investment to roll-out new technology, this would allow consultants to report on diagnostic scans taken anywhere in the country, helping to address short-falls in capacity in some areas.

We are also taking action to ensure we have enough radiologists for the future, working with NHS Boards and staff side organisations, including the Royal College of Radiologists, to make sure we have the right numbers in the right place conducting the right procedures.

In September 2017 we announced an additional £3 million to increase the number of radiology trainees in Scotland by at least fifty over the next five years. This was in the context of our wider package of measures to improve waiting times for diagnosis and treatment of cancer patients in Scotland.

Furthermore, the National Radiology Implementation Programme will see radiology information systems connected across every NHS Board in Scotland over the next 1-2 years. The programme will rely on NHS Boards working together in a joined-up service approach to maximise available services.