ALEX Salmond has been accused of being “blasé” about the level of treatment available to cancer patients by a sufferer of the disease.
The claim by cancer patient Anne Fisher came as Labour said the First Minister was planning an “independence ball”, while failing to improve access to potentially life-saving medicines on Scotland’s NHS.
Labour leader Johann Lamont called on the SNP leader to “start addressing the real needs of Scots” rather than his own game of “let’s pretend” on winning independence at First Minister’s questions yesterday.
Ms Lamont raised the case of cancer sufferer Mrs Fisher – a mother of three from Greenock – whom the Labour leader said was being denied a cancer treatment medicine called ipilimumab that is available to patients in other parts of the UK.
Health campaigners have claimed that there are 19 cancer drugs available on the NHS in England which are not offered to patients in Scotland.
Consultants from Scotland’s top cancer treatment unit Beatson West of Scotland Cancer Centre previously called for a shake-up of the Scottish Medicines Consortium, which approves medicines.
Mr Salmond insisted the NHS was dealing with the issue “in the best possible way to help the most number of people”.
He said: “The whole area of access to drug treatments is an extremely serious one. We’re trying to find the best system which allows our people to have access to the best possible treatment.”
However, Mrs Fisher said she was “disappointed” with the First Minister’s reaction as she called on the government to improve access to cancer treatment drugs in Scotland.
She said: “I know that there are many people in my position who do not understand why people in England can get access to certain drugs while in Scotland we can’t.
“If you live us a few hundred miles down the road you seem to get treated differently. That just seems unfair.
“I am glad that this issue was raised with the First Minister but I am disappointed with his reaction. He seemed a bit blasé about the whole thing, he just shrugged his shoulders and moved on.”