Scottish Conservative MSP Murdo Fraser has welcomed a pledge from NHS Fife that they will put a plan in place to improve access to speech and language therapy to cancer sufferers by October.
This followed the release of a shocking statistic provided by the Information Services Division (ISD) which showed that only 9.4% of patients in Fife with neck and head cancer had access to a specialist speech and language therapist before treatment in the 2017-18 financial year – highlighting the fact that NHS Fife was the worst performing health board in Scotland.
Mr Fraser, who represents the Mid Scotland and Fife region, was so concerned he raised the matter recently with Jeane Freeman, the Health Secretary, at the Scottish Parliament. He had asked Ms Freeman what action the Scottish Government is taking in response to the shocking statistic.
Ms Freeman has now provided a written answer, which states that NHS Fife has put a plan in place to improve access to speech and language therapy before treatment by October this year, through the recruitment and training of additional specialist staff.
Commenting, Mr Fraser said: “I welcome the written answer from Ms Freeman which states that NHS Fife will put this plan in place to make better access to speech and language therapy by October.
“Ms Freeman had also stated that patients in NHS Fife can receive treatment through an existing service level agreement with NHS Lothian and NHS Tayside for specialist head and neck cancer, including speech and language therapy.
“She also said that patients who have been referred to other boards for their cancer surgery, may continue their ongoing treatment, including speech and language therapy or they may return to NHS Fife.”
Mr Fraser added: “The figures provided by ISD for Fife are really shocking and it must be a very worrying state of affairs for patients in the region. But rest assured, I will be keeping a close eye on the situation.”