News Roundup [abridged Versions Appear In The Paper Journal]

Cancer plan for Scotland will cost £40m

BMJ 2001; 323 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.323.7304.68/a (Published 14 July 2001) Cite this as: BMJ 2001;323:68
  1. Bryan Christie
  1. Edinburgh

    Doctors and other health workers in Scotland are to be given a key role in deciding how cancer services develop, as part of a £40m ($56m) strategy designed to improve the treatment and prevention of the disease.

    The Scottish health department has decided to place the people who are delivering the care at the heart of the planning process by charging them with determining priorities for investment and change. Three regional cancer advisory groups are to be set up around the country that will advise a strengthened Scottish Cancer Group on how the disease should be tackled.

    Scotland has some of the highest cancer rates and poorest survival prospects in the world. The Scottish cancer plan, published last week, acknowledged that there had been under-investment in staff and in specialist equipment and that slow progress had been made in reducing death rates compared with other European countries. It promised to build a comprehensive network of services to match the best in Europe, aimed at improving prevention, early detection, and treatment, in addition to developing better screening services and sensitive palliative and hospice care.

    Detailed recommendations will not be made until the autumn, when the Scottish Cancer Group will produce proposals for future investment. The new group will be chaired by Dr Anna Gregor, clinical director of the south east of Scotland cancer network, and she said that the first priority would be to tackle staff shortages in key specialties. She added: “This strategy marks a real watershed for cancer in Scotland. It offers a real chance to start to speed up improvements in treatment.”

    The BMA described the plans as a major step forward, and Professor Gordon McVie, director general of the Cancer Research Campaign, said it showed that cancer is now being taken seriously in Scotland. However, he added: “There is a crying need to move faster to restore the NHS cancer care standards to their former glory after 20 years of neglect.”

    Disappointment was expressed that the extra money did not match the £564m that has been promised in the English cancer plan. Scotland has one seventh of the cancer cases in the United Kingdom but is getting only one fourteenth of the extra spending planned in England. The anti-tobacco group ASH (Action on Smoking and Health) also said that the government's failure to introduce a ban on tobacco advertising left “a massive hole” in the cancer strategy.

    Cancer in Scotland is available at www.scotland.gov.uk/publications

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