Comment: ‘The correct steps at the right time’

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We have made huge leaps forward when it comes to tackling cancer in the last 30 years.

Survival rates have dramatically improved for many forms of the disease and we are getting far better at detecting it.

But as we all live longer lives incidences of the diease are still on the increase. Cases of prostate cancer, for instance, are expected to soar by 50 per cent in a decade.

The NHS may be facing huge pressures just now, but in ten years’ time those pressures will have grown and changed dramatically.

A decade may seem like a long time away right now but it is a blink of an eye in terms of medical planning.

We see within the NHS today what happens when that planning is not done well enough at all levels up to the Scottish Government. Waiting times soar as health boards find it impossible to find the necessary staff. Costs also rocket as hospitals are forced to pay incredible sums to attract the few properly qualified staff who can pick and choose where and when to work.

There have been repeated examples in recent years of failures in such longterm planning, like the lack of space at the ERI at Little France.

It is reassuring to see the correct steps being taken at the right time by NHS Lothian. It is clear that the highly regarded Edinburgh Cancer Centre will not be able to cope with the demand for treatment from across South-East Scotland in the years to come.

Services need to be radically redrawn and the vision for a Beatson-style centre of excellence is exactly what is required. All the right steps are being taken in NHS Lothian to ensure that cancer services continue to be fit for purpose.

The Scottish Government must match that with the right 
funding.