Cancer treatment plans could change in Covid-19 outbreak, says Health Secretary

By Katrine Bussey, PA Scotland Political Editor

The treatment of some cancer patients “may have to change” as the NHS battles against coronavirus, Health Secretary Jane Freeman has said.

She stressed the treatment of those suffering from cancer has been a “priority” despite the Covid-19 pandemic.

While she said “vital cancer services will remain in line with clinical priority”, she added “for some cancer patients treatment and management plans may have to change over the coming weeks and months due to the new risks associated with Covid-19”.

The Health Secretary, answering a written question at Holyrood, said patients must be told clearly about any changes and these “should never compromise patient care and outcomes”.

A new information leaflet is being prepared for cancer patients, with Ms Freeman saying guidance on the treatment of those suffering from the disease would be kept under review by the National Covid-19 Cancer Treatment Response group.

Liberal Democrat health spokesman Alex Cole-Hamilton said: “For patients going through cancer treatment, and their families, this is an immensely worrying time.

“The distressing reality is that other illnesses will not push pause while we deal with this crisis.

“I’m glad to see the Health Secretary has offered patients reassurance that vital treatments will go ahead and grateful to see a specific Cancer Treatment Response group has been set up. “