South of Scotland MSP Colin Smyth has raised concerns over the possible closure of accommodation used by local cancer patients when receiving treatment at the Western General Hospital in Edinburgh with the Cabinet Secretary for Health in the Scottish Parliament. 

The 14-bed unit based next to the Cancer Care unit at the hospital is used by patients from Dumfries and Galloway, the Borders and Fife. Patients are able to stay in the accommodation during the treatment without having to make round- trips home every day.

However, NHS Lothian are currently reviewing the accommodation at the Western General Hospital including a possible change of use for Pentland Lodge and intend in the long term to build a new Cancer Centre. A local campaign has been launched to save outpatient accommodation at the site.

Colin Smyth raised the issue with Cabinet Secretary for Health Shona Robison during Question Time in the Scottish Parliament today (23 February) where he sought assurances that an out-patient residential facility will be retained at the hospital and that local patients from Dumfries and Galloway would be fully involved in any discussions on service changes at the hospital’s Cancer Centre as plans to build a new centre are developed.

Speaking in the Scottish Parliament, Colin Smyth asked the Cabinet Secretary

“ The cabinet secretary will be aware that patients from Dumfries and Galloway, often have to travel to the Western General Hospital in Edinburgh for cancer treatment and that they are provided with out-patient accommodation at Pentland Lodge next to the cancer unit.

The accommodation, which is currently under review by the health board, means that patients do not have the gruelling journey back and forth from Dumfries and Galloway to the hospital each day. Patients also get invaluable peer support that they would not receive if they stayed in a nearby hotel.

Will the Cabinet Secretary give assurances that, in any service changes at the hospital, an out-patient residential facility will be retained and that current and past patients, including those from Dumfries and Galloway, will be fully involved in any discussions on service changes?

In reply Shona Robison said, “Given the circumstances of the treatment that patients undergo, I very much appreciate the need for appropriate accommodation. As the member will be aware, the decisions on that level of detail have not been finalised at this point, but I can assure him that the needs of patients travelling from around Scotland, including from Dumfries and Galloway, will be considered as the business case develops (for the new Cancer Centre). I have asked to be kept informed about Pentland Lodge. It is important that appropriate accommodation is provided and I am happy to liaise with the member as the issue is taken forward. We should bear in mind the potential for a fit for purpose oncology assessment unit and a state of the art facility, but it is important that patients who are travelling from out with the Edinburgh area get the appropriate accommodation. I am happy to keep in contact with the member about that”.

Commenting after the exchange in Parliament Colin Smyth added, “I’m pleased that the Health Secretary has agreed to keep in regular contact with myself as any changes at the hospital are developed. However, it is vital that we keep the pressure up and ensure that patients from Dumfries and Galloway are fully involved every step of the way. That’s why I have also now written to the Chief Executive of NHS Lothian asking that he convenes a focus group of patients- both current and past- from Dumfries and Galloway and ensures they are fully involved in shaping any changes that come forward with the ultimate aim of ensuring that outpatient accommodation is retained at the hospital”



To watch the full question please visit:

General Questions, 23/02/2017, Question 1.

And to read the full report from General Questions visit:



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