Stop the suffering

Being told you have a life threatening condition is the last thing you want to hear.

But to then be told, that you will be denied access to drugs that can improve the quality of the life you have left, simply because you live in the wrong part of the country, would only pile on the misery.

Of course, it’s very important that medicines, are safe, effective, and provide good value.

But we must ask ourselves, if we really need an evaluation of the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence, the Scottish Medicines Consortium, and then, the further scrutiny of fourteen separate health boards before Scottish patients can have access, to some medicines that are available in the rest of the UK.

This situation of delay, bureaucracy and complexity has existed for too long, and at a high cost to many who could benefit from new medicines.

Indeed, almost sixteen months ago, the previous Cabinet Secretary for Health, Nicola Sturgeon, in response to the rising anger of patients and doctors said that action was required.

Why then, did we have to wait on a committee inquiry this year, before the current Cabinet Secretary for Health, Alex Neil, announced an independent review to ensure speedier access to new medicines for Scottish patients?

This was not simply a debating point that was made in the Scottish Parliament’s debating chamber last week.

This really matters.

It really matters to all the people who were diagnosed with a life threatening condition during this time and who were denied the best possible treatment.

It also matters to those who have been diagnosed, but are still alive, and face an agonising wait for the review to be completed.

And it matters to the families who have been left feeling powerless as they watch their loved ones suffer.