A health board has sent hundreds of cancer patients to other parts of Scotland for treatment as it tries to attract new consultants to treat those with the disease, it has emerged.
Labour is demanding the Scottish Government work with NHS Tayside to tackle the situation there as a “matter of urgency”, claiming patients had been “completely betrayed”.
It comes after bosses at the health board revealed that, as of July 13, a total of 365 cancer patients had been sent to other NHS areas for treatment – with this up from a total of 204 on September 1 last year.
NHS Tayside had revealed the totals in response to Freedom of Information requests from Scottish Labour.
It added that it was seeking to recruit three new consultants to treat cancer patients, including those with breast cancer.
The news comes four years after it emerged hundreds of breast cancer sufferers in the area were given a lower dose of chemotherapy than they would have been in other areas – with some patients dying.
Scottish Labour health spokesperson Jackie Baillie said: “Years have passed but cancer services in NHS Tayside are still in turmoil and women are still being failed.”
She added: “The SNP’s continued failure to get a grip of this crisis is putting women’s lives at risk and forcing hundreds of vulnerable cancer patients to travel across the country for life-saving treatment.
“Patients and staff alike have been completely betrayed in this long-running scandal.
“As health secretary, Humza Yousaf failed to address this crisis – he must do better as First Minister.
“The SNP Government must work with NHS Tayside to help them fill these vacancies and get services up and running again as a matter of urgency.”
An NHS Tayside spokesperson said: “NHS Tayside is absolutely committed to delivering cancer services locally. There is a national shortage of oncology consultants and NHS Tayside oncology teams have been working with three other centres in Scotland to ensure treatment pathways are in place enabling cancer patients to be treated in a timely manner.
“NHS Tayside’s oncology team has been working very hard to recruit to our vacant positions and has successfully recruited to a number of specialist oncology positions within Tayside Cancer Services including consultants and speciality doctors’ posts.
“This successful recruitment of specialised clinical staff will support the continuing reduction of mutual aid provided by the three cancer centres.”
A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “Tayside Cancer Centre has a committed and caring clinical team, focused on delivering their rebuild plan for the centre.
“We do not want patients to have to travel beyond Tayside for any longer than necessary and note the number of patients being asked to do so is reducing significantly.
“We would expect NHS Tayside to do all they can to continue this progress.”
Published: by Radio NewsHub