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Chamber and committees

Question reference: S6W-25920

  • Asked by: Paul Sweeney, MSP for Glasgow, Scottish Labour
  • Date lodged: 29 February 2024
  • Current status: Answered by Neil Gray on 14 March 2024


To ask the Scottish Government whether it will provide an update on what steps it is taking to improve the pathway from primary care to diagnostic tests for patients with suspected cancer.


A clinical refresh of the Scottish Referral Guidelines for Suspected Cancer is underway to help ensure those with symptoms suspicious of cancer are put on the right pathway at the right time. These Guidelines have been developed for primary care clinicians to aid clinical decision making for those that require urgent specialist investigation.

Meanwhile, a new primary care cancer education platform – Gateway C – has been procured in NHS Scotland to provide innovative, and tailored information to support earlier cancer diagnosis efforts and enable effective decision-making. The first modules to be included on the platform will be launched in Spring 2024.

Scotland’s first Rapid Cancer Diagnostic Services (RCDSs) – established within existing NHS infrastructure – are operational in NHS Ayrshire and Arran, NHS Dumfries and Galloway NHS Fife, NHS Lanarkshire and NHS Borders, providing primary care with access to a new referral pathway for patients with non-specific symptoms suspicious of cancer.

The University of Strathclyde has completed a two year evaluation of Scotland’s first RCDSs showing that the services are achieving what they set out to do – find cancer – while delivering a high standard of care for primary care and patients at speed.

Two test beds continue to pilot chest x-ray AI in NHS Scotland, to help identify those with a suspicion of lung cancer following a chest x-ray, often requested by primary care clinicians. This work aims to reduce the time from primary care referral to the urgent suspicion of cancer (USC) diagnostic pathway commencing.