NHS FIFE is among Scotland’s worst-performing health boards when it comes to hitting cancer treatment time targets.

Figures for the last quarter show that only 80.3 per cent of eligible patients began treatment within 62 days of receiving an urgent referral with suspicion of cancer.

This fell below the target of 95 per cent.

Of the mainland health boards, only NHS Highland had a lower rate in the figures supplied by Public Health Scotland.

Mark Ruskell, Scottish Green MSP for Mid Scotland and Fife, said: “Being referred for cancer treatment is a stressful and worrying time in anyone’s life.

“That’s why it’s so important that treatment begins as soon as possible, and it’s cause for concern that targets aren’t being met in Fife.

“As we begin to recover from the pandemic, it’s vital that resources are put in place to support NHS Fife in ensuring treatment time targets are met and that cancer patients have the peace of mind they need."

NHS Fife did, however, meet the 31-day performance target, with 99 per cent of patients commencing treatment within 31 days of the decision to treat.

This was highlighted by Claire Dobson, director of acute services, who told the Press: "We know the importance of early intervention in improving outcomes for patients with cancer and we want to minimise the time it takes to detect and diagnose cancers in order that treatment can be initiated as soon as possible.

“The 62-day performance target has proven particularly challenging over recent months due to issues affecting a small number of few specialities; however, the vast majority of patients continue to begin treatment within 62 days of initial referral, with patients requiring urgent treatment for the most aggressive forms of cancer most often commencing within a matter of days."

She continued: "Earlier this year, Fife was chosen as one of the pilot sites for the introduction of the new Early Cancer Diagnostic Centres, which we expect will help us improve clinical pathways for patients with possible cancers, ensure patients have earlier access to diagnostic testing and enable greater numbers of patients to be diagnosed at an earlier stage in the disease."