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More choice for cancer treatment is a must

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By Amy Duffy
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More choice for cancer treatment is a must

Local cancer patients should be able to access treatment in Glasgow instead of having to travel a greater distance to Edinburgh.

The Scottish Government has confirmed NHS Dumfries and Galloway will support them if they choose to access the Glasgow pathway provided there is available capacity and access to the appropriate treatment.

Future decisions will now be taken through discussions involving patients and their clinical team.

Finlay Carson, MSP for Galloway and West Dumfries, insists it is only right that cancer patients are afforded greater choice in their treatment.

He said: “I reiterate my position that decisions on each and every cancer treatment pathway should be taken with the patients’ interest at the heart of the decision.

“All options must be fully explored in order that they can then decide with their clinical teams what is best for them – and, of course, the best possible outcome, that could be Glasgow, Edinburgh, or even Carlisle!”

“It may be that in some instances Glasgow may not be the best place to go. However at the end of the day the patient needs to be clear about why a particular pathway is being recommended.”

The Scottish Conservative and Unionist MSP believes local patients must be afforded a greater choice – and simply not told that they must go to Edinburgh for treatment when there are closer facilities in Glasgow.

He fears that longer travel distances may cause additional stress and anxiety for those involved.

Mr Carson wrote to Scottish health secretary Humza Yousaf regarding the inequalities and serious challenges being encountered by local cancer patients.

It came after he raised the issue last month at the Scottish Parliament when he urged the health secretary to act and ensure greater choice in accessing treatment and care.

In a response, Lynne Nicol, deputy director of Planning and Quality, confirmed the Scottish Government was committed to ensuring cancer patients are treated as close to home as clinically appropriate.

She said: “As treatments for conditions, including cancer, become more complex and expensive, it becomes impossible to deliver them in every location.

“However we expect local NHS Health Boards to have in place arrangements to allow and support people to receive treatment elsewhere where clinically appropriate.

“We also expect all health boards to take a person-centre approach when setting and applying patient travel policies.”

The health official revealed NHS Dumfries and Galloway is keen to have a “wider discussion” about cancer services. It is proposing a public meeting be held in June of this year.

Ms Nicol stated NHS Dumfries and Galloway would support cancer patients wishing to choose the Glasgow pathway.

She added: “We agree that everyone should have fair and equitable access to high quality care.

“It remains an unwelcome reality that communities experience, health, quality of life and even life expectancy differently across our society.”

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