Cabinet (Meetings)

– in the Scottish Parliament at on 29 February 2024.

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Photo of Alex Cole-Hamilton Alex Cole-Hamilton Liberal Democrat

3. My thoughts are with Emma Caldwell’s family. The discussion that we have just heard underpins the urgent need for a judge-led inquiry.

To ask the First Minister when the Cabinet will next meet. (S6F-02869)

Photo of Alex Cole-Hamilton Alex Cole-Hamilton Liberal Democrat

An international study has shown that Scotland has among the longest waits for and poorest access to cancer treatment. I want to tell members about Gill. Her mum, dad, cousin, aunt and two grandparents have all died of cancer. Her sister tested positive for the CHEK2 cancer gene and was given preventative surgery and reconstruction in Edinburgh. However, Gill was repeatedly denied genetic testing by NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, despite her family history. She persevered and discovered that she does have that gene. Now, she has been told that the surgery that her sister received in Edinburgh is not available in Glasgow, which means far longer waits and recovery times.

When cancer rips through your family and you know that it is coming for you, the last thing that you need is to fight for care. All that Gill wants is to see her young children grow up, which is something that her mother never got to do. I ask the First Minister to look into Gill’s case and ensure that all patients, wherever they live, have the highest quality of cancer care.

The First Minister:

I thank Alex Cole-Hamilton for raising an incredibly important issue. I read through the international study that he referenced and I ask him, after First Minister’s question time, to send me the details of Gill’s case. I put on record my sympathy for all the losses that Gill has experienced. Alex Cole-Hamilton is absolutely right that the only thing that many of us want is to see our children grow up, spend time with them and have as much time with our loved ones as possible.

I am more than happy to look into the case. I can also ensure that we send Alex Cole-Hamilton some detail on the improvements that we are making in cancer care. It is still extremely challenging following the pandemic—there is no getting away from, or denying, that—but more and more people are on the 31-day and 62-day pathways. There has been some recent evaluation of our rapid cancer diagnostic services, which might be of interest to Alex Cole-Hamilton. There have been some really positive results in reducing waiting times for diagnosis for patients in the areas where the rapid cancer diagnostic services operate. I will wait for Alex Cole-Hamilton to send Gill’s details, and then we will see what the Government can do.