South Scotland MSP Colin Smyth has given a cautious welcome to a decision by NHS Dumfries and Galloway to realign cancer pathways with the West of Scotland Cancer Network- in a bid to end the scandal of patients in Wigtownshire having to travel to Edinburgh for cancer treatment.

At present the region is currently aligned with the South East Scotland Network for cancer care and treatment but the local NHS Board agreed to seek a change in the arrangement at their board meeting this week.

Commenting on the move Colin Smyth said “I cautiously welcome this decision which aims to end the appalling scandal of patients in Wigtownshire having to make the long journey to Edinburgh for cancer treatment rather than Glasgow. It is three years since the NHS board agreed to look at this issue and there has been a shocking lack of progress, so this commitment must now be followed by action.”

“I was initially of the view that the local NHS should seek a shared arrangement. Patients in the east of the region could continue to use the Edinburgh Cancer Centre as I know how much people have value the care they receive there, but those further west could be treated by the Glasgow Cancer Centre. However, I understand the decision by NHS Dumfries and Galloway that having a single network to deal with was better for patient care and re-aligning with the West of Scotland network makes more sense”.

“Such a major change will clearly take time. We are talking about years to complete the change with each cancer pathway changing almost one at a time. The Glasgow cancer centre just doesn’t have the capacity at present for such a major change overnight and no-one wants to see a move that impacts adversely on waiting times. People currently receiving care also don’t want that to be disrupted in anyway”.

“The change will require the help of other health boards who may have to switch network from the West to the East to free up capacity in Glasgow for Dumfries and Galloway. That will need the intervention of the Scottish Government that is why I have written to the Health Secretary Jeane Freeman urging her to ensure the Government do all it can to support this change and make it happen as soon as possible for the benefit of patients in Dumfries and Galloway”.

“It is also important to stress the fact that at present people can request to be treated at the Glasgow Cancer Center rather than Edinburgh and that choice needs to be better promoted by the Health Board”

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