Anger after Scots mum endured four hour trips for 12 minutes of cancer treatment


A grieving daughter has called for an urgent review of cancer care services in the region.

Rea Hunter described the current situation as “deplorable”.

And she claimed “animals are treated with more dignity and compassion” than patients.

The 39-year-old spoke out after her mum Olivia Craig died last month having been diagnosed in November.

Mrs Craig, 65, had to endure four-hour round trips from her home in Dalbeattie to Edinburgh “writhing in pain” for treatment that took just 12 minutes. Currently, patients are having to travel to the capital for treatment despite closer facilities available in Glasgow.

Rea said: “My mum had to endure hours in a taxi to get to Edinburgh for radiotherapy while she was suffering spinal cord compression and writhing in pain.

“She was in so much pain that my dad had to give her medication every half an hour in the taxi. He said that journey will haunt him for the rest of his life.

“It’s an absolute travesty that people who are ill, in agony, are being subjected to a four-hour round trip.

“We treat animals with more dignity and compassion.

“As a region with a population of almost 140,000, and stats suggesting one in two people will be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime, it shouldn’t be like this.

“The whole region is lacking in proper cancer services and end of life care. We need a specific center for patients and their families.”

Mrs Craig was diagnosed with kidney cancer that had spread to her bones and spine on November 17.

Olivia Craig from Dalbeattie died on January 20
Olivia Craig from Dalbeattie died on January 20

Rea said: “She was eventually diagnosed at Dumfries and an appointment was made for her to go to see an oncology team in Edinburgh to discuss treatment options.

“After having to travel there again for radiotherapy, she collapsed at home on December 17 and because we couldn’t get an ambulance, my dad and sister had to bump her down the stairs in a wheelchair and take her to hospital themselves.

“She was taken back to Edinburgh for further treatment and had to cope alone because it was too far away and too expensive for any of us to stay up there.

“She was transferred back to Dumfries Infirmary on Christmas Eve and the cancer was discovered in her brain in the first week of January.

“Dumfries has the palliative care Alexandra Unit but it only has eight beds. We’d have had more chance of winning the lottery than getting mum in there.

“Her greatest wish was to get home but that didn’t happen and she ended up dying alone in hospital on January 20.

“What she went through will live with us forever.

“What we need is something like a Maggie’s Center that is able to support both patients and families.

“It beggars belief that we don’t already have a facility like that. It feels like we are getting the drugs compared to other areas in Scotland.”

MSPs Finlay Carson and Emma Harper both recently raised the issue in Holyrood.

SNP MSP Ms Harper told ministers: “Current arrangements – where people often travel a 260-mile-round-trip from Stranraer to Edinburgh when Glasgow is closer – is archaic and constituents are asking for change.”

Galloway and West Dumfries Tory MSP Mr Carson added: “It is a lamentable situation and I call on you to urgently look at this matter where people are potentially having less good outcomes because of that position they are put in.”

Health Secretary Humza Yousaf said he had “taken on board” their comments.

NHS Dumfries and Galloway said staffing and equipment issues made offering some services locally “unlikely”.

The arrangement for patients to be treated in Edinburgh is a long-standing one between the health board and NHS Lothian.

A spokesman said any redesign of treatment pathways would require working in partnership with the Scottish Regional Cancer Networks and other boards, making it a lengthy process.

He added that all work on realignment of cancer services had been paused due to the pandemic but pointed out that free travel was available to patients and stressed that urgent cancer care had continued throughout Covid restrictions.




www.dailyrecord.co.uk

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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