Dumfries and Galloway MP Richard Arkless has written to NHS Chief Executive Jeff Ace with some key questions relating to cancer care pathway for patients in Dumfries and Galloway. 


A review of tertiary cancer care pathways offered to Dumfries and Galloway’s NHS patients was promised last month and in light of this, Mr Arkless has requested that the following questions are answered:


  • Why has this service not been reviewed up until now?
  • When will the current review be performed and completed?
  • What are the timescales for the reviews findings to be implemented?
  • Who is sitting on the committee which is conducting the review?


Commenting, Mr Arkless said:


“This review is long overdue and it is now vital that it leads to specific policy changes.  Cancer patients should receive the highest level of care as close to their home as possible.  We accept that in rural areas such as ours travel to specialist treatment centres is necessary, what is not acceptable is that patients from the west of my constituency are being treated in Edinburgh when Glasgow would be so much easier for them to get to.”


“A referral to Edinburgh for a patient who lives in a DG8 or DG9 postcode involves a seven-hour return trip – a referral to Glasgow, would reduce that to 5 hours. Additionally Glasgow has access to much better public transport such as the train and bus service directly from Stranraer.”


Mr Arkless added:


“It is clear that cancer patients, with potentially fatal and always debilitating illnesses and the unpleasant effects of treatment, should avoid unnecessary travel wherever possible.


“It is worth noting that unlike all of the other Scottish rural boards – Argyll & Bute, Highlands and all the island boards – Dumfries & Galloway Board does not financially assist necessary travel, far less unnecessary travel resulting from inappropriate referral pathways. The Board should implement this or a similar scheme without delay.


“I look forward to receiving the answers to my questions and will be watching closely as this important review progresses.”


A campaign launched last month to keep NHS services local is now backed by a growing petition which currently contains in excess of 1,500 signatures.  Tom Mitchell, a community campaigner who was both a cancer patient and a volunteer driver for St John’s, initiated the present campaign and commented:


“We have been trying for many years to have a review conducted but this has been strongly resisted by D & G Health Board. The present review was only announced when the Health Board realised that we intended to bring their resistance to the attention of the public. Unfortunately the review is being conducted by the very people who have illogically resisted change for so many years. It is therefore not surprising that we have no faith in the review unless it involves significant input from independent sources.  The campaign has tremendous local support including over 1500 signatures on a recently launched petition.


“It is really appreciated that Mr Arkless is fighting on our behalf. The questions he asks are very relevant and the replies are awaited with great interest.”


South of Scotland MSP Emma Harper who previously worked as a Nurse Educator added:


“We know that the long journey to Edinburgh for cancer treatment can be difficult and

exhausting for patients – and it is hard to justify when the journey to Glasgow is so much easier.  I met with Tom Mitchell recently to discuss the campaign and I understand and sympathise with the concerns he expressed, and which have really been the catalyst for this campaign.


“NHS D&G’s review is very welcome but it needs to deliver real change and improvement for cancer patients in the west of our region by allowing them to access treatment in Glasgow rather than Edinburgh if that is the preferred patient choice.”

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