By Lucy Ashton

Today in the Scottish Parliament, Jackie Baillie challenged the Scottish Government over their failure to utilise all of the capacity at their disposal to tackle the cancer backlog.

Speaking in the Health Recovery debate, Ms Baillie, right, said that the government’s decision to cease the use of private sector capacity to tackle the cancer backlog could make the difference between patients “living or dying.”

Speaking in the Holyrood chamber, Scottish Labour deputy leader and health spokesperson Jackie Baillie said:   “The First Minister said to this chamber that we would “use capacity from wherever we can find it”. I agree with her. So how disappointing to learn from the minutes of the National Cancer Recovery Group on the 19th March that the ‘majority of private sector capacity will cease at the end of March’.

“The same minute expressed concern from clinicians about the impact of the loss of this additional capacity. This, at the same time as urgent breast cancer referrals were 42 per cent above pre-Covid levels.

“Whilst I am not a fan of private medicine, simply cutting off that valuable capacity that would help us catch up, without having anything in its place, is simply unforgiveable.

“The Cabinet Secretary’s predecessor [Jeane Freeman] used the private sector to bolster capacity in the NHS – it is short-sighted to end it when that capacity is clearly still required because it might make the difference between someone living or dying.”

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