Covid-19 Lockdown: Next Steps

Part of the debate – in the Scottish Parliament on 21st May 2020.

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The First Minister:

We are doing so, and we will continue to on an on-going basis. At this stage, the route map sets out an assessment of some of the order in which we will seek to do things. Although we will want to accelerate as much of that as possible. The resumption of screening services is in phase 2 right now, but we will look continuously at whether that can be brought forward.

The suspension of screening services was probably one of the most difficult in a panoply of horrible, difficult decisions that we have had to make over the past few months. The judgment that was arrived at was informed by the clinical advice that it was less harmful to suspend appointments than it was to carry on and have people missing appointments because they might have been ill or worried about going to their appointment because of the risk of catching the virus. If we had done the latter, people would not have been seen until the next time that they were due to be screened in the three or five-year cycle, whereas, if we pause the process, we can pick up as we resume screenings again and nobody will miss out completely. Neither of those options was good, but that was the decision.

However, I want to get those screening services resumed as quickly as possible, as does the health secretary, and we will seek to do it as quickly as possible. We will also continue to talk to cancer organisations about how we mitigate the harm of that, and about other actions that we can take in the short term, and as quickly as possible, to try to deal with extremely serious issues that absolutely none of us is complacent about in any way.