Precious Time


It was good to meet with an old Scott Lithgow worker at the Scottish Parliament last week.


Ian Fleming was transferred to Port Glasgow after the closure of the Bowling yard in Dumbarton.


We had a good chat reminiscing about the old days, recalling characters such as Hugh Boyd the senior shop steward at the time, and Big George Brunton the manager.


But Ian’s visit to the parliament was not a social occasion.  His purpose was much more serious.


Ian’s wife, Maureen Fleming, has bowel cancer. The 63 year old mother and grandmother, has been denied cancer drugs recommended by her consultant that would extend and improve the quality of her life.


The Flemings are the latest family to find themselves in this terrible situation, of being denied cancer drugs that are routinely available in England.


The family are rallying round to raise the £10,000 that it will cost for the first three months of her treatment.


Ian and Maureen are also discussing the probability of leaving their family behind and moving to Newcastle to avoid escalating costs.


This is a human tragedy that no family should have to face.

The debate and scrutiny about how we can ensure access to new medicines that are safe, effective, and provide good value will continue.

Indeed, this week the Scottish Parliament’s health committee which I convene will hear more from the major drug companies and clinicians on this difficult issue.


Although there is no doubt that the debate needs to takes place, and I have confidence it will be resolved in time, the tragedy is that the Flemings, and others like them, don’t have the luxury of time.