About this release

This release by Public Health Scotland (PHS) presents the quarterly update of Cancer Waiting Times statistics, reporting two National Standards on how long patients waited for their first cancer treatment. This release covers patients who started their first treatment by quarter ending 30 June 2022.

Image caption NHS Scotland performance against the 62 and 31-day standards

Main points

The 62-day standard states that 95% of eligible patients should wait a maximum of 62 days from urgent suspicion of cancer referral to first cancer treatment.

  • There were 4,072 eligible referrals for the 62-day standard, an increase of 5.5% from the previous quarter, an increase of 9.4% compared with quarter ending 31 December 2019.
  • 76.3% of patients started treatment within the 62-day standard, compared with 76.9% in the previous quarter, 83.7% for quarter ending 31 December 2019.

The 62-day standard was only met by NHS Borders.


The 31-day standard states that 95% of all patients should wait no more than 31 days from decision to treat to first cancer treatment.

  • There were 6,380 eligible referrals within the 31-day standard, an increase of 6.4% from the previous quarter, but decrease of 0.1% compared with quarter ending 31 Dec 2019.
  • 95.5% of patients started treatment within the 31-day standard, compared with 96.3% in the previous quarter, and 96.5% for quarter ending 31 December 2019.

The 31-day standard was not met by NHS Boards - Grampian, GG&C, Highland, and Lothian. 


Current standards for cancer waiting times are that 95% of all eligible patients should wait no longer than 31 or 62 days (Action Plan), with 5% tolerance level due to clinical appropriateness.

The 62-day standard applies to patients urgently referred with a suspicion of cancer by a primary care clinician, general dental physician, patients referred by one of the national cancer screening programmes, and direct referrals to hospital where the signs and symptoms are consistent with the cancer diagnosed, as per the Scottish Referral Guidelines e.g. self-referral to A&E.

The 31-day standard applies to all patients, regardless of the route of referral.

The Covid-19 pandemic has impacted the results, some Boards have highlighted that staffing and capacity issues continue to impact on performance in the latest quarter.

Find out more

The next release of this publication will be 15 December 2022.

NHS Performs

A selection of information from this publication is included in NHS Performs. NHS Performs is a website that brings together a range of information on how hospitals and NHS Boards within NHSScotland are performing.

General enquiries

If you have an enquiry relating to this publication, please email phs.cancerwaitsnew@phs.scot.

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Older versions of this publication

Versions of this publication released before 16 March 2020 may be found on the Data and Intelligence, Health Protection Scotland or Improving Health websites.

Last updated: 21 March 2024
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