South of Scotland Labour MSP Colin Smyth has urged the Scottish Government to provide more support to allow NHS Dumfries and Galloway to implement a planned change in cancer pathways by aligning with the West of Scotland Cancer Network, rather than the South East Scotland Cancer network.

The move would significantly reduce journey times for cancer patients in Wigtownshire seeking treatment. At present most patients from Dumfries and Galloway are treated at the Edinburgh Cancer Centre, double the travel time for patients from the west of the region when compared to being treated in Glasgow.

Currently the Glasgow Cancer Centre has little capacity to absorb all patients from Dumfries and Galloway, which makes Health Secretary Jeane Freeman’s personal intervention all the more important if a change is to be made. NHS Dumfries and Galloway recently agreed to change cancer pathways from Edinburgh to Glasgow but warned it would take five years.

Colin Smyth wants the change carried out sooner and raised the matter in a general question to Health Secretary Jeanne Freeman in the Scottish Parliament on Thursday (January 23), following a recent meeting with representatives of the Galloway Community Hospital Action Group in Stranraer.

Speaking after the exchange in the Scottish Parliament Colin Smyth said: “In her answer to my question in parliament, Jeane Freeman admitted the move would take ‘some time’ but it’s already more than three years since NHS Dumfries and Galloway first identified this as an issue that needed to be addressed.

“Progress has been far too slow and I intend to keep raising it in parliament until something is resolved, the Scottish Government owes it to the people affected to sort this out soon.

“It’s clear that to make the change from Edinburgh to Glasgow for the whole region will require the Scottish Government to intervene and support NHS Dumfries and Galloway. The local NHS will either need one of the Health Boards in the West of Scotland Cancer Network, more than likely Forth valley, to agree to a swap with NHS Dumfries and Galloway, to free up places at the Glasgow Cancer Centre for patients from our region.

“Alternatively, the Government needs to intervene by investing in extra capacity at the Glasgow Cancer Centre to deal with the extra patients from Dumfries and Galloway as a result of this change. Either way Jeanne Freeman’s intervention will be the key to the timescale for change.

“As an interim measure NHS Dumfries and Galloway could better promote to patients in Wigtownshire that they are entitled to request to go Glasgow rather than Edinburgh for treatment if they wish as this isn’t always mentioned to patients. When the local NHS also start to transfer to the Glasgow Cancer centre, they should do so by starting in Wigtownshire because that’s where the concerns over travel times exist.”

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