Urgent referrals for cancer have spiked in Glasgow in the last two years.

The number of people sent by GPs to hospitals marked ‘urgent, suspicion of cancer’ increased from 28,040 in 2020/21 to 43,325 in 2022/23.

Scottish labour obtained the figures from health boards across the country.

It found across 12 of the 14 health board urgent cancer referrals rose from 96,349 in 2018/19 to 171,999 in 2022/23, a rise of 78%.

For Greater Glasgow over the four years the increase was 72% up from 25,169 in 2018/19.

Labour said it was evidence of a ‘cancer care crisis’ and demanded the Scottish Government take urgent action.

Jackie Baillie, Scottish Labour health spokesperson, said: “Cancer remains Scotland’s biggest killer and yet this SNP Government has time and time again failed to take the decisive action needed to save lives.

“Every loved one lost to cancer is a tragedy. It is absolutely crucial that everybody afflicted by cancer has early access to high-quality treatment and care.”

The biggest annual increase in the Glasgow area was from 2020/21 to 2021/22 when cases shot up by 11,503 urgent referrals, a rise of 41% in a year.

Baillie added: “This surge in suspected cancer referrals is not just down to Covid. It’s a result of the repeated failures by SNP Health Ministers to get a grip on this deadly disease. 

“For months, Scottish Labour has been calling for a proper diagnostic catch-up plan and action to address the issues facing cancer care and workforce pressures, but these calls have fallen on deaf ears.

“The time for warm words is over. Michael Matheson must take immediate action, invest in primary care and come up with a proper workforce plan to reverse this crisis before any more lives are lost.”

The Government said the Covid pandemic affected services and it had a long term plan in place to improve treatment.

 A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “Cancer remains a national priority for the NHS and Scottish Government which is why we have published a new ten year strategy, improving all areas of cancer care from prevention and diagnosis through to treatment and post-treatment care. This will improve cancer survival and provide equitable access to treatment.

“The pandemic had a significant impact on all aspects of health and social care, and cancer services were no exception.

“Through continued investment in the Detect Cancer Earlier Programme and by activating additional Rapid Cancer Diagnostic Services across Scotland we aim to further reduce late stage diagnosis.”