‘Service pressures’ force Tayside board to outsource work to England
NHS Tayside has been forced to outsource biopsy work to England due to an inability to recruit and retain sufficient numbers of staff, it has been revealed.
A Healthcare Improvement Scotland (HIS) review of cancer treatment in the north of Scotland found as a result of “service pressures”, the board is now relying on core biopsies analysis south of the border in order to meet demand.
A core biopsy, during which a needle is passed through the skin to take a tissue sample, is often performed when a suspicious mass or lump is discovered, or if an abnormality is found on an imaging test such as an x-ray.
HIS noted due to issues in recruiting and retaining pathologists, there is currently “a lot of pressure” on services, creating a “knock-on effect” on cancer service delivery.
NHS Tayside confirmed all clinically presumed cancer biopsies are still being carried out locally so results are “received in the most timely way possible”.
The North Cancer Alliance (NCA) covers the three cancer centres in NHS Grampian, NHS Highland and NHS Tayside and coordinates cancer services for patients across the north of Scotland.
The report states: “A number of the NCA clinical directors and pathway board managers informed the group that NHS Tayside and NHS Grampian both currently have a number of pathology vacancies.
“As the recruitment of pathologists is an emerging/re-occurring theme, the NCA are trying to work with NHS boards to facilitate a regional solution to ensure the demand is met instead of competing for resources.”
North East MSP Bill Bowman said the failure to recruit and retain health professionals “has gone on for too long”.
He pointed to recent figures which showed waiting times for key tests to detect cancer “at the longest they have ever been” and targets for cancer treatment waiting time in Tayside are “missed repeatedly”.
Scottish Labour health spokesperson Monica Lennon described the “deeprooted financial problems” at NHS Tayside as “unacceptable” and said the “chaos” at the board was “not the fault of its loyal and dedicated workforce, nor is it fair on the patients”.
The HIS review also recognises improvements made in the regional cancer network and noted centres have demonstrated a commitment to working together and had made efforts to involve patients in treatment choices.
It praised NHS Tayside for providing an open access assessment clinic for breast cancer which allows patients to have all of their pre-surgery assessments in a single day.
A spokeswoman for the health board said: “Our pathology service is experiencing challenges due to a small number of workforce vacancies and increased demand. These challenges are similar to demands seen by other health boards across Scotland.
“NHS Tayside currently outsources a small number of gynaecological and skin biopsies. These are all non-cancer, non-urgent tests.”
Source: Courier and Advertiser
So there you have it. Staffing levels so low, we cant even get our own tests done in Scotland. its a sorry state of affairs that the SNP cuts and mismanagement has brought us to.
The SNP are the problem, not the solution.