The SNP has announced plans for a £30m scheme to improve the early detection of cancer, aimed at saving more than 300 lives each year.

Health secretary Nicola Sturgeon unveiled plans for the Detect Cancer Early initiative at the party’s Spring conference in Glasgow.

The scheme will be brought forward if the party is re-elected to government in May.

Ms Sturgeon said the initiative would raise cancer awareness and “significantly increase diagnostic capacity” in the NHS to increase the number of Scots diagnosed in the first stages of the disease by 25 per cent.

The scheme would start with lung cancer, breast cancer and colorectal cancer.

The SNP plans to introduce it using money from the £1bn it has already committed to the health budget over the next four years.

Ms Sturgeon also announced plans for Family Nurse Partnerships to be introduced in Glasgow, with funding of £1m.

The partnerships, already piloted in other parts of Scotland, provide young mothers and fathers with intensive nursing support for the six months before the birth of their baby, to up to two years after the birth.

Ms Sturgeon said: “Its aim is to equip these young parents with the right skills to bring their children up well and to help them as parents get back into education or employment.”

Speaking about SNP plans for a scheme to help with the early detection of cancer, Macmillan Cancer Support’s director for Scotland Elspeth Atkinson said: “We know that early diagnosis really does save lives and so these additional resources are very welcome indeed.

“Providing everyone diagnosed with cancer with access to a clinical nurse specialist, as well as to information and support tailored to their individual needs, will go a long way to ensuring that the growing numbers of survivors go on to lead the best quality of life possible.”