A&E is not the NHS’s only problem area

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Kenny Farquharson ­(Perspective, 20 March) is correct to suggest that the First Minister should be challenged on the oversight of the NHS by her party over the last eight years, but not just on the lack of choice allowed patients.

He alludes to the “slow-­motion car crash” in the NHS in Grampian and accident & emergency department problems across the country. He might also like to consider the postcode lottery in radiotherapy services in Scotland, where we do not have national levels of standard radiotherapy techniques. I know all five radiotherapy centres have the technology, but it is not being used fully for all appropriate patients in all centres.

I am currently revisiting Australia, where I directed a radiation oncology department for 11 years before ­returning to Glasgow. I have confirmed that the now standard intensity modulated radiotherapy is being ­delivered in even the smallest centres in small regional and rural towns where radiotherapy centres exist – and some such centres have done so for nearly a decade.

Other 21st century techniques are being rolled out, and not just in the largest metropolitan centres. And remember, radiotherapy cures more patients than chemotherapy and is second only to surgery in that role.

There are, I know, many reasons why Scottish centres struggle to deliver all levels of modern radiotherapy and I sympathise.

Were this related to chemotherapy access, it would be considered a national scandal and would dominate press coverage and the mailbags of MSPs.

The SNP government must bear responsibility as it has had sole charge of the service over two parliaments.

It is unlikely this problem applies only to radiotherapy. It is time questions were asked and strategies demanded now the referendum is decided and the government can concentrate on its day job of governing, and so guiding the NHS into the rest of this century.

(Dr) Alan Rodger

Clairmont Gardens

Glasgow