Pledge to give all women same level of cancer care

Author: Adrian O'Dowd
Pledge to give all women same level of cancer care

All women will receive the same level of cancer care across Scotland following revelations that women in one region were given lower doses of chemotherapy than elsewhere, it has been announced.

The Scottish government yesterday published its Tayside breast cancer treatment review which promises that cancer patients across the country will have access to the same levels of care and treatment irrespective of where they live.

A total of 19 recommendations were made in the review carried out by an independent group set up by Scotland’s chief medical officer (CMO) in response to two earlier reports on breast cancer patient treatment in Tayside.

The first report* by Healthcare Improvement Scotland followed claims relating to women being given lower doses of chemotherapy treatment than in other centres.

A second report** from an Immediate Response Group was then commissioned to deliver a clinical risk assessment of the impact of this variation in practice.

Tayside health board (NHS Tayside) said it previously lowered the dosage to reduce side effects, but it has now reintroduced the same levels as used by other health boards in Scotland.

Following those publications earlier this year, a short life Independent Advisory Group, chaired by Professor Aileen Keel, was set up with a remit to make recommendations to minimise the risk of this happening again.

Among the recommendations published today is a “Once for Scotland” approach which encourages the rapid sharing and adoption of best practice across regional cancer networks and NHS boards.

CMO Dr Catherine Calderwood said: “The health secretary has welcomed these recommendations and in adopting them we will help ensure that cancer patients across Scotland have access to the same high level of care and treatment, regardless of where they live.

“Delivering on recommendations on informed patient consent is essential so that all cancer patients have the same high level of informed involvement in decision making about their care.

“One of the first actions will be to establish an implementation group for these recommendations.”

NHS Tayside medical director Professor Peter Stonebridge said: “Following concerns raised about variations in treatment in Tayside earlier this year, I can reassure patients that the same chemotherapy dosage regimes are being offered to patients in Tayside as in the rest of Scotland and all patients are fully informed about the options available to them.

“We continue to offer support to patients and families affected. Today’s report sets out clear recommendations for cancer networks and teams across Scotland and we welcome the recommended new approach which will allow cancer networks across the country to work more closely together.”