Scottish National Party pledge Ј30 million to improve cancer detection
Scotland's health secretary Nicola Sturgeon has revealed details of a new cancer detection strategy at the Scottish National Party's (SNP) spring conference.
Should the party be re-elected to power in the country's May elections, the new government would spend £30 million on improving cancer detection as part of an effort to boost Scotland's cancer survival rate.
Speaking to delegates, Ms Sturgeon noted that the cancer survival rate in Scotland, while in line with the rest of the UK, is inferior to that seen in many of the countries on the continent.
She put this down to late detection, with many people only diagnosed with cancer when the disease is in its advanced stages.
In a bid to put this right, the SNP has pledged to use £30 million to set up the 'Detect Cancer Early' initiative, which will focus on lung cancer, breast cancer and colorectal cancer.
"By raising cancer awareness and significantly increasing diagnostic capacity in the NHS, we plan to increase by 25 per cent the number of Scots diagnosed in the first stage of cancer," Ms Sturgeon explained.
"If successful, this initiative can save more than 300 lives every year."
Money will come out of a £1 billion investment pot already allocated for health spending over the next four years.
Ms Sturgeon also highlighted the SNP's achievement of reducing waiting times for cancer patients during its time in office.
She noted that the previous administration had not once managed to hit a self-imposed target for cancer patients to start their treatment within 62 days of being referred by their GP.
But, the SNP achieved the goal within 18 months of coming to power, and went on to set an even more stringent marker.
This new 31-day target was then met a year ahead of schedule.
Jon Spiers, head of public affairs and campaigning at Cancer Research UK, said: "Research shows that one of the major reasons that cancer survival in Scotland lags behind the best performing countries in the world is late diagnosis. When cancer is detected early, treatment is more likely to be effective."