Ruth Maguire MSP has welcomed Scottish Government plans to restart NHS Scotland’s cancer services that puts patient experience at its heart.

Focus on the remobilisation plans, due to launch in the autumn, will centre on improving services and ensuring access for patients to the best possible treatments.

The pandemic has resulted in significant disruption, with changes to service delivery, as well as delays in some diagnostic processes, and alterations to treatment plans and patient support.

The recovery plan will be led by clinical leaders and speciality advisers and will align with the NHS Remobilise, Recover and Re-design framework.

New positive measures used in response to COVID-19 will be maintained. They include greater use of video technology, nationally consistent approaches to prioritisation, innovative triage techniques, and quicker decision making in new treatment options.

The SNP MSP said: “Going through cancer treatment in normal circumstances will already be a deeply distressing time for the people and families affected. The disruption caused by the pandemic to NHS services will no doubt have magnified feelings of anxiety and uncertainty.

“NHS Ayrshire and Arran have done a marvellous job in handling urgent cancer care throughout lockdown and I have no doubt will continue to provide excellent service to patients as more clinical treatments become available through the remobilisation plans.”

Health Secretary Jeane Freeman said:

“Throughout this pandemic NHS Scotland has remained open, continuing to provide emergency and urgent cancer treatment, as well as maintaining COVID-19 capacity and resilience.

“We have been able to drive forward welcome reforms at pace and take new innovative approaches. We now need to embed these changes for the long term.

“The plan will continue the momentum of these approaches to service improvement, ensure patients have the best available treatment and care across Scotland, and make sure that our diagnostic pathways for people who may have cancer are as smooth and timely as possible.

“Understanding and improving the experience of patients will be at the centre of this plan – and the safety of patients and staff will continue to be our priority.”

Chair of the Scottish Cancer Coalition Claire Donaghy said:

“The Scottish Cancer Coalition have been concerned about the impact of COVID-19 on cancer services and are pleased to hear the announcement that the Scottish Government are going to develop a cancer recovery plan.

“Members of the coalition presented their priorities for cancer services recovery to the Scottish Government earlier this month, and are encouraged to know that this has informed the Cabinet Secretary’s advice to progress with a recovery plan. We are looking forward to engaging further in the development of this plan in the coming weeks.”

The plan will be launched in the autumn of 2020.

It will be informed by engagement with clinical teams and stakeholders such as the Scottish Cancer Coalition, Cancer Research UK and Macmillan Cancer Support.

The views and experiences of patients and their families will be sought through direct contact, representative groups and the use of information from sources including Care Opinion and the Scottish Cancer Patient Experience Survey.

You can read Re-mobilise, Recover, Re-design, The Framework for NHS Scotland online.

You can also read COVID-19: Scotland’s route map for transitioning through and out of the crisis online.

More detail on Health Boards mobilisation plans can be read online.

The Framework for recovery of cancer surgery can be read online.