7,500 patients are waiting for treatment for breast reconstruction and plastic surgery

By Bill Heaney

Pam Gosal, the West Scotland Tory MSP, has been championing widely perceived women’s issues, including breast reconstruction and domestic abuse, in the Scottish Parliament.

Today at Holyrood she asked First Minister Humza Yousaf to provide an update on waiting times for post-cancer breast reconstruction surgery.

Humza Yousaf told her: “We recognise the importance of breast reconstruction surgery. I am aware that there are still unacceptable waits in some specialties, but we are committed to delivering sustained improvements and year-on-year reductions through service redesign and national working.

“Waiting times are not published by individual procedure, but the most recent national statistics from June show that almost 7,500 patients are waiting for in-patient day-case treatment in the plastic surgery specialty in Scotland.

“Breast reconstruction surgery covers a range of procedures, and delays can be caused by a number of factors. We know, of course, the impact that the pandemic has had, but I assure Pam Gosal that we are working hard to reduce those waiting times.”

Pam Gosal told MSPs: “Breast cancer treatment is not just physically demanding—it is emotionally taxing, too. Reconstructive surgery gives women the chance to regain control of their bodies.

“I have received a response to a freedom of information request that shows that the average wait time for that surgery is nearly 400 days in Greater Glasgow and Clyde [which includes West Dunbartonshire].

“However, I have a constituent for whom it has been more than three and a half years since her mastectomy.

“She was told that she would have a date for her surgery by 21 October, but that date has come and gone.

“Does the First Minister accept that that is not good enough? What steps will he take to cut waiting times for that surgery and ensure that patients such as my constituent are not left waiting for years?”

The First Minister agreed with Pam Gosal that the waiting times were unacceptable.

He added: “She speaks powerfully around the emotional and physical impact of breast cancer, in particular. We have been working towards improvements in waiting times, and we have met the 31-day standard, according to the most recent statistics, but I am afraid that we have fallen short of where we need to be with the 62-day standard.

“We will continue to progress work and action to reduce those waiting lists. I will ensure that the cabinet secretary for health writes in detail to Pam Gosal about some of the actions that we are taking.

“In the meantime, if Pam Gosal provides me with the details of her constituent, we will liaise with the health board to see whether anything further can be done.”

Top picture: A woman patient in a local hospital recovering from treatment.

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