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New NHS Scotland Academy Programme aims to improve lung cancer diagnosis

NHS Scotland Academy, with funding from the Scottish Government’s Detect Cancer Earlier (DCE) Programme, has announced the development of a pioneering training programme that aims to significantly improve the speed of diagnosis and treatment of lung cancer patients across Scotland.

The National Bronchoscopy Training Programme will develop state-of-the-art bronchoscopy training for 45 NHS Scotland respiratory trainees and trainers, resulting in improved diagnosis of illnesses, including cancer, and accelerated treatment and care.

The programme aims to accomplish this by 2026, using high fidelity simulation technology, providing faster, improved, and more focused initial training for doctors.

Bronchoscopy is a diagnostic procedure used to look at the lungs and air passages, allowing practitioners to detect many lung diseases such as tuberculosis and lung cancer.

Traditionally, bronchoscopy training is carried out using an apprentice-style approach on patients. However, this new method provides faster, safe, hands-on experience and practice using state-of-the-art simulators, providing learners with more opportunities to develop their essential skills.

NHS Education for Scotland has funded the simulators, which will enable clinicians to gain experience and competently perform bronchoscopy procedures, reducing discomfort to patients.

The Academy have also begun delivering an advanced programme focusing on Endobronchial Ultrasound (EBUS) to help upskill trainees, and eventually consultants, across NHS Scotland. This is a key step towards achieving better outcomes for lung cancer patients, advancing essential mediastinal staging and offering an improved standard of care.

Health Secretary, Neil Gray said: “When it comes to lung cancer we know that faster diagnosis and treatment can improve outcomes for patients.

“This new training programme launched by the NHS Scotland Academy will make a significant difference by investing in our dedicated workforce and improving the quality of biopsies taken.

“Funded through our Detect Cancer Earlier Programme, this programme will help support the delivery of Scotland’s lung optimal cancer diagnostic pathway.”

Dr Joris Van Der Horst, Consultant Respiratory Physician and National Training Lead at NHS Scotland Academy said: “Choosing the right treatment for a patient with lung cancer depends on obtaining accurate diagnosis and staging; NHS Scotland Academy are developing a national bronchoscopy and EBUS training programme to improve the skills of future and current consultants in these procedures, which are key to achieving accurate staging.

“The programme is based on high fidelity simulator training that allows trainees to acquire competence in an unhurried and safe environment, away from the pressures of clinical service, before completing their training in the clinical setting. 

 “By upskilling clinicians through this training, we will significantly improve our ability to diagnose and treat lung cancer."

NHS Education for Scotland Chief Executive, Karen Reid, and NHS Golden Jubilee Chief Executive, Gordon James added: “We are proud to support the NHS Scotland Academy in the development of this pioneering programme.

“This innovative programme will help to enhance the skills of our workforce and ultimately lead to improved outcomes for patients, particularly in the diagnosis and treatment of lung cancer.”

Katie Cuthbertson, National Director at the Centre for Sustainable Delivery said:

“We published Scotland’s lung optimal cancer diagnostic pathway back in December 2022, with a bold aim to diagnose lung cancer patients within 21 days from referral and commence treatment by day 42. We know that every day counts when it comes to lung cancer.

“This new training programme will help improve the standards of staging the disease and reduce repeat biopsies having to be undertaken, which can often slow a patient’s pathway.”

More information on Bronchoscopy training will be available by September 2024.

For more information on the NHS Scotland Academy Programme, please visit

Scotland’s lung optimal cancer diagnostic pathway can be found here -

New NHS Scotland Academy Programme aims to improve lung cancer diagnosis