The news that NHS Ayrshire and Arran will not be pressing ahead at this time with the centralisation of chemotherapy services on a single site in Ayrshire is “a step in the right direction”, according to South Scotland MSP Colin Smyth. However, the local MSP has warned the Health Board that they need to “up their game” when it comes to consulting the public on the future of cancer care in the area.
The comments come following a meeting of NHS Ayrshire and Arran Board on 29 January where members agreed not to proceed with a consultation on a single site (Crosshouse) model for chemotherapy services as identified by the Board as the preferred model in an Options Appraisal exercise in 2015. Instead, the Board agreed to a period of public engagement around a new model for cancer care as proposed by the West of Scotland Cancer Network, which focuses on outreach and community based delivery of cancer chemotherapy.
Colin Smyth has previously raised concerns over the possible closure of Ayr Hospital Chemotherapy Unit, lobbying NHS Ayrshire and Arran but also raising the matter with Health Secretary Shona Robison in the Scottish Parliament and questioning NHS Ayrshire and Arran Chief Executive John Burns over the issue at a recent meeting of the Parliament’s Health Committee.
Commenting on the latest move by the Health Board Colin Smyth said, “The reprieve for Ayr Cancer Unit is very welcome and it’s a real credit to all those who campaigned against its possible closure that we have seen what is effectively a U-turn by NHS Ayrshire and Arran, albeit not a long term guarantee. It was clear when I questioned their Chief Executive John Burns at a recent Scottish Parliament Health Committee meeting that the Board were considering a change of tact on the whole issue which they would consult on in the Spring of 2018, so I’m pleased this appears to be happening”.
“However, this is by no means the end of the matter. The new model for chemotherapy they are considering will require considerable investment and at the time the Scottish Government are failing to deliver the funds the local NHS needs, it’s difficult to see where the Health Board will find the money to do it properly when they are having to make millions of pounds of cuts. I will be writing to the Health Secretary Shona Robison to urge the Government to come up with the funding needed from the £100m they say they have set aside for their ten-year Cancer Strategy”.
“It is also vital that the local Health Board up their game when it comes to consulting over their new plan. So far the whole issue has been very badly handled by them, from their out of date options appraisals to the secrecy behind the process and that can’t continue. I will be urging the Health Board to carry out proper engagement with the local community when it comes to the new model so they get it right this time, starting by asking them to set out a clear detailed timetable and consultation process.”