Charities last night hit out at NHS Tayside over the “unacceptable” treatment of 14 breast cancer patients who died after a decision to lower the standard chemotherapy dosage,
NHS Tayside is changing its treatment after a watchdog report found patients were being given a lower dose of drugs than in the rest of Scotland.
Healthcare Improvement Scotland (HIS) found patients were not informed about the difference in treatment at the time. The health board has since written to 304 patients who had chemotherapy for breast cancer from December 1 2016 to this month.
They have been offered an appointment with an oncologist. Baroness Delyth Morgan, chief executive at Breast Cancer Care and Breast Cancer Now, said: “We welcome the independent inquiry to fully understand the causes and clinical impact of the decision to lower the standard chemotherapy dosage for patients in NHS Tayside. While we are reassured that the risk of any negative impact on patients’ outcomes is likely to have been small, such variation in best practice is unacceptable and we need to understand how it has been allowed to happen.
“For patients that have been affected, and any families who have very sadly since lost loved ones, this may provoke some distressing questions about their care, and it’s vital they now receive the information and support they need.
“Patients must be able to count on receiving a consistent and agreed standard of care no matter where they live in Scotland.”
NHS Tayside has now said 14 of these patients are dead and an independent expert will review the treatment these women were given.
Scotland’s Chief Medical Officer, Dr Catherine Calderwood, and Chief Pharmaceutical Officer, Dr Rose Marie Parr, ordered HIS to carry out an investigation after concerns were raised “about variations in treatment compared with other health boards”.
Scottish Labour’s health spokesperson Monica Lennon said: “The news that 14 women died after receiving lower than recommended dosages during chemotherapy treatment at NHS Tayside is deeply worrying. It is right an independent expert will investigate these deaths to give families the answers they need, but this should not have happened.”