Breast Cancer Care and Breast Cancer Now responded to the Clinical Risk Assessment report on the clinical management of breast cancer in NHS Tayside.
The Clinical Risk Assessment report follows a previous report from Health Improvement Scotland which highlighted that patients in NHS Tayside were being treated differently to those in other areas of Scotland with chemotherapy (adjuvant and neo-adjuvant) being given at a lower dosage. Patients in NHS Tayside were also not being offered Oncotype DX.
Ashleigh Simpson, Policy and Campaigns Manager (Scotland), Breast Cancer Care and Breast Cancer Now said:
It is reassuring to hear that the report concludes that the risk of negative impacts following the lower chemotherapy doses is small. But for the small number of patients who may have benefitted from a higher dose, this variation in practice in NHS Tayside remains completely unacceptable.
This will be an extremely distressing time for those affected and their families, and it’s essential they are given the support and care they need. We welcome NHS Tayside’s decision to reopen their helpline and are encouraged to hear that the majority of patients affected have already been offered a consultation with their oncologist.
However, this report raises a series of concerning red flags over governance processes in NHS Tayside, and we welcome the recommendations for a review of its decision-making and patient communication procedures.
Patients must have faith that they are receiving a consistent standard of care which is in line with agreed best practice in Scotland. It is critical that patients are fully consulted on the benefits and risks of all parts of their treatment to allow them to make an informed decision about their care. This report also highlights the need for clarity about how to communicate any variations in treatment to patients and it’s vital this recommendation is now put in place.