By Lucy Ashton
Jackie Baillie, MSP for Dumbarton constituency, has today raised serious concerns with the Scottish Government regarding the terrible mishandling of the cervical screening programme.
The Scottish Government announced that about 430 women who had partial hysterectomies were wrongly told they did not need to be screened. A small number of these women later developed cervical cancer and one has since died.
Jackie Baillie MSP, pictured right, said: “This an extremely serious situation and our thoughts are with the women who have been affected. The truth is we do not yet know the full scale of this error but it could impact on many more women than the 500 excluded from the screening programme since 1997.
“It is, of course, critical that women are contacted urgently and offered information and support.
“Can I ask the Minister why was this not picked up by audits of the screening programme in the past?
“Can I also ask the Minister when all the women affected will not just be identified, but also seen by a clinician?
“Will there be additional specialist clinics in every health board area? “And, of course, you will be aware of the concerns about capacity.
“There is a significant backlog in screening of something like 180,000 tests; delayed because of the pandemic and delays now of six months or even more for those who have been screened and need treatment.
“So can the Minister tell me, what additional resources will be provided urgently to cope with the serious situation, as well as catching up with the backlog?”
Meanwhile, Scottish Labour has demanded urgent action to tackle Scotland’s growing national emergency in cancer care.
New data from Public Health Scotland shows that the 62 day cancer treatment target was missed again.
It means the target has not been met since 2012.
The SNP Government missed its target by 12% with just 83% of patients started treatment within the 62 day standard, compared to a target of 95%.
Disturbingly, it seems like the failure is growing, with ministers falling further behind on meeting the target compared to both the previous quarter and the previous year.
This is despite referrals being 6% below pre-pandemic levels, raising fears cases may be going unidentified.
Scottish Labour’s Health and Covid Recovery spokesperson Jackie Baillie said: “Scotland is living through a national emergency in cancer care – and it is costing lives.
“These shameful figures are made even more shocking when you realise that the pandemic has seen referrals drop – meaning many Scots could be living with cancer and not even know it.
“The SNP claim to be dealing with the cancer crisis but the figures speak for themselves.
“These targets have not been met in over eight years, and this crisis is getting worse, not better.
“Lives are on the line and we cannot afford to waste any more time.
“It is time to take action and start treating this like the national emergency it is.”