'Serious Concerns' expressed over NHS Tayside treatment of Cancer

Scottish Conservative MSP Murdo Fraser has expressed concerns over a damning report by a health watchdog on NHS Tayside’s treatment of breast cancer, describing the issue as “staggering.”

The politician, who represents the Mid Scotland and Fife region, was reacting to the report published today by Healthcare Improvement Scotland (HIS) which has resulted in NHS Tayside announcing it will make changes to its breast cancer chemotherapy treatment after it was found to be different to the rest of Scotland.

HIS made several recommendations about ways to improve practice and processes. NHS Tayside states it has accepted all of these and is now developing an action plan to act on these with urgency.

NHS Tayside has now written to all affected patients who received chemotherapy as part of their breast cancer care from December 1, 2016, when the change was made, offering them a clinic appointment with an oncologist.

The Times raised the issue in an article published in May last year.

Commenting, Mr Fraser said: “This report highlights very serious concerns. It is staggering that this situation was allowed to develop, and we now need to provide reassurance to patients and confidence that things are now on the right track.

“This matter was raised by a national newspaper almost a year ago.”

The report carried out by HIS found there was a lack of consensus within NHS Tayside on the treatment of breast cancer, specifically relating to dosages of medication required to treat it. HIS established that NHS Tayside’s practice was “at variance” with that used elsewhere in Scotland.

HIS discovered that NHS Tayside breast oncologists decided to reduce the dose of breast cancer chemotherapy to a level below the amount used in other areas in Scotland. HIS said pharmacy and nursing staff indicated that they felt “professionally vulnerable” because of this and took steps to seek assurance from their respective senior managers.

The report also stated that an internal audit was carried out on chemotherapy dose adjustments for the 2014-15 period, but this data was not widely shared or presented to a multi-professional audience for peer review.

In addition, the report states that multi-professional staff raised concerns that patients were not informed of the difference in practice in NHS Tayside in relation to other NHS boards and that there is no local specific patient information leaflet which explains local practice.

Macmillan patient leaflets, which do not contain dosing information, are routinely used, the report states.

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