Scottish Election 2021: Cancer patient's daughter reveals concern about Covid impact on services

The daughter of a cancer patient who will have to travel to London for a vital operation after being told she cannot have it in Glasgow has said she is concerned how many other women have just accepted the “unbelievable situation”.

Julie Goedkoop, 44, from Uddingston, raised concerns after her 69-year-old mother Mary Hudson was told her ovarian cancer, which was diagnosed as having returned 10 weeks ago, could not be treated at Glasgow Royal Infirmary.

The family claim she was told the hospital was only able to deal with patients who had received their first cancer diagnosis, but Mrs Hudson has previously had breast cancer as well as an operation for ovarian cancer 18 months ago.

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The case of the grandmother-of-four from Springboig in Glasgow was raised in the BBC leader’s debate election special on Tuesday night by Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar, who said the cancer waiting times backlog was now a “national emergency”.

Mary Hudson with her daughter Julie Goedkoop.

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Mrs Hudson was offered a diluted form of chemotherapy as treatment, but after a recommendation from her oncologist she will travel to London’s NHS Hammersmith hospital for the operation.

However NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, which operates the GRI said that the operation Mrs Hudson requires has never been offered at their hospital.

Ms Goedkoop said: "We were absolutely determined to ensure mum receives surgery. But it’s unbelievable that she has to travel all the way to London for it.

Anas Sarwar raised the case of Mary Hudson in the leader's debate.

“We are raising her case so that we can help others in the same situation. How many women have been told they can’t have an operation and have just said OK?”

New figures show that in the final three months of last year, 485 people waited longer than two months to start their cancer treatment, despite being urgently referred, while an estimated 7,000 people are believed to be living with undiagnosed cancer as a result of the pandemic’s impact on cancer services.

Mr Sarwar said: “The backlog for cancer treatment in Scotland is now a national emergency.

“There are thousands of missing patients and there needs to be an urgent plan to address this crisis, including rapid diagnostic centres and a catch-up plan for screenings by increasing staff and processing capacity to clear the backlog within a year.

“It is a scandal that patients like Mary are having to travel hundreds of miles for surgery, and my thoughts are with her and her family."

During the debate, Nicola Sturgeon agreed Mrs Hudson’s case was not acceptable and said the government had begun NHS remobilisation plans to tackle cancer treatment backlogs.

She also pledged if re-elected she would “aim to pilot three fast track cancer diagnostic centres from this summer” with a £3 million investment, “followed by full roll-out to every health board area by the end of the Parliament”.

A spokesperson for NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde said they were sorry the family were concerned about Mary Hudson’s planned cancer treatment and added: “We are following the National Cancer Recovery Group’s guidance and the majority of cancer treatment has continued throughout the pandemic.”

The health board also said that the particular surgery needed was only available in London “because, until recently, clinical evidence suggested that there were alternative, more suitable, approaches so it has not been developed as a service in NHSGGC to date.”

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