The intervention of the Scottish Government will be key to ensuring the realignment of cancer pathways by NHS Dumfries and Galloway with the West of Scotland Cancer Network happens sooner rather than later, according to South Scotland MSP Colin Smyth

Last week the local NHS Board agreed at their board meeting to seek a change in the current arrangement for cancer care, however concern has been expressed that it could take several years to make the change.

At present the region is currently aligned with the South East Scotland Network (SCAN) for cancer care and treatment along with three other Board areas NHS Lothian, NHS Borders and NHS Fife. NHS Dumfries and Galloway Board agreed to seek a change to the West of Scotland Cancer Network (WoSCAN) which currently covers four Boards- NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, NHS Lanarkshire, NHS Ayrshire and Arran, NHS Forth Valley. In order to realign Dumfries and Galloway it is likely one of the four Boards in the West of Scotland Network will need to swap and be covered by the South East Scotland Network or a significant increase in capacity will need to be created at the Glasgow Cancer Network.

Colin Smyth believes this will take the intervention of the Health Secretary Jeanne Freeman to make it happen, as there is currently little capacity in the Glasgow Cancer Centre to absorb all the patients form Dumfries and Galloway. Colin Smyth has written to the Health Secretary urging her to intervene to encourage another Health Board to realign from the West of Scotland to the South East of Scotland network or to commit to increasing capacity in Glasgow.

Colin Smyth said “The decision to make this change to end the scandal of patients in Wigtownshire having to make the long journey to Edinburgh for cancer treatment rather than Glasgow has been welcomed but many people are righty concerned at the timescales being mentioned. It seems the Health Board are talking about several years not months. However, in many ways it is out of the hands of NHS Dumfries and Galloway. They will need one of the Health Boards in the West of Scotland Cancer Network, more than likely Forth valley, to agree to a swap, to free up places at the Glasgow Cancer Centre for patients from Dumfries and Galloway. Or the Government needs to intervene by investing in extra capacity at the Glasgow Cancer Centre to deal with the extra patients from our region. Either way Government intervention will be the key to the timescale for change. That’s why I have written to the Health Secretary Jeanne Freeman urging her to intervene and make clear the Government’s support for this change. It’s already three years since NHS Dumfries and Galloway first identified this as an issue that needed to be addressed and so far, there hasn’t been the progress people wanted.”

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