Cancer patients not receiving specialist speech and language support in the Highlands

Scottish Conservative MSP, Donald Cameron,  has expressed concern at the very low level of specialist speech and language support available to cancer patients in the NHS Highland area. The region is lagging behind all but one other health board according to figures provided by ISD Scotland.

The latest figures available, 2017/18, show that 58% of patients with oral, pharyngeal or laryngeal cancer undergoing treatment with curative intent across Scotland were seen by a specialist speech and language therapist before treatment, which is well below the target figure of 90% for this measure.

However, the rate in the NHS Highland area was just 10.4%.

Mr Cameron said: “On the face of it, this is an extremely worrying figure, and we really must try to understand why a health board in the central belt like NHS Lanarkshire can achieve 86.7% while patients in our area have only a 10.4% chance of seeing a therapist.

“We know only too well that there are severe pressures on our health service in the Highlands, as well as the challenges of our unique geography to cope with, but people in our area deserve to be treated fairly too.

“Re-learning how to speak after cancer treatment is crucial to recovery and people in this position simply must have the support they need.”