Two consultants probed on breast cancer drug scandal

Doctors in Tayside argued that higher doses of the cancer drugs  prescribed elsewhere were 'unacceptably toxic'. Picture: TSPL
Doctors in Tayside argued that higher doses of the cancer drugs prescribed elsewhere were 'unacceptably toxic'. Picture: TSPL
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A probe into the breast cancer chemotherapy scandal at NHS Tayside will reportedly centre on the conduct of two consultants.

The review by the General Medical Council (GMC) will look at the conduct of the identified consultants in particular, rather than the quality of treatment offered by the department as a whole.

More than 300 patients, including 14 who have since died, were given reduced amounts of the chemo treatment by doctors between December 2016 and March this year in an attempt to reduce serious side effects and long-lasting secondary conditions.

A Healthcare Improvement Scotland (HIS) report found the dosage given to Tayside patients was lower than in any other Scottish health board area and that patients were not told of the variance.

• READ MORE: Probe into treatment in NHS Tayside breast cancer scandal

It is believed the GMC has been in contact with senior figures at NHS Tayside in relation to the report and the conduct of two consultants will be considered following a complaint from within the health board.

A GMC spokesperson said it would “carefully consider any issues raised against the professional standards we expect of doctors”. The review will look at the conduct of the two consultants rather than the quality of treatment offered by the department as a whole.

Senior clinicians in Tayside have repeatedly reaffirmed their view that higher doses prescribed elsewhere were “unacceptably toxic” and insisted the treatment regime offered in Tayside was created in the best interests of patients.

The HIS report agreed the decision was taken with patient well-being in mind.

However, it advised it may have inadvertently increased the risk of cancer returning. It is understood the findings, which include criticisms over a reported lack of evidence to support the doctors’ decision, have been with met with questions of their own.

Specialists from the Royal College of Physicians London will visit Tayside later this month to form their own opinions. A review into the deaths of 14 patients since December 2016 has reportedly been brought forward.

Lee Dennis, who set up the NHS Tayside Cancer Care Support Group, said: “Many patients and families feel as though they were deprived of fully informed choices about their treatment.”

An NHS Tayside spokeswoman said: “We are aware of this and are in regular contact with the GMC.”