Highlands and Islands MSP learns how early diagnosis can beat cancer sooner


Photo:  Rhoda with Jonathan Roden, who is Public Affairs Officer (Scotland) for Cancer Research UK.

MSP Rhoda Grant met Cancer Research UK staff at the Scottish Labour party conference in Dundee last week, to learn about the charity’s priorities for beating cancer sooner in Scotland

“Like everywhere in Scotland, cancer has a huge effect on families in the Highlands and Islands so it has been fantastic to meet with the Cancer Research UK team to hear more about their priorities for diagnosing patients sooner in Scotland,” said Mrs Grant, who represents the region.

Mrs Grant heard about Cancer Research UK’s latest campaign, which urges the Scottish Government to address shortages in the diagnostic workforce in Scotland.

The earlier a cancer is diagnosed the more likely it is to be treated successfully. For some of the most common types of cancer, survival is more than three times likely higher when the disease is diagnosed at its earliest stages.

Yet statistics show that more than 18,000 patients in Scotland waited more than the target time of six weeks to receive a diagnostic test in the quarter ending 38 December 2018.*

The report also shows that, during the same quarter, only 78.1% of patients received the tests they needed within six weeks. The target is that no one should be waiting longer than six weeks for a test.

Gordon Matheson, Public Affairs Manager for Scotland at Cancer Research UK, said: “the NHS is under continued strain with too many patients still waiting too long for tests, some of which could detect cancer”.

“With a welcome focus on screening and early detection of cancer, there’s an urgent need to comprehensively address workforce shortages.”

“Much needed investment in this area is beginning to emerge and it’s vital we see a strong emphasis on making sure we have enough staff to meet increasing patient need, and that existing staff are being used to their best potential.”


* The statistics reflect the waiting times for all diagnostic services in Scotland, including those that affect cancer patients.
The full ISD Scotland report can be found here: https://www.isdscotland.org/Health-Topics/Waiting-Times/Publications/2019-02-26/2019-02-26-WT-Diagnostic-Report.pdf
Diagnostic Test & Investigation 31 Dec 18 (current) 30 Sep 18
31 Dec 17
Key Diagnostic Tests & Investigations 78.1 78.1
All Endoscopy 57 56 56.9
All Radiology 88.1 59.2 90.6

Please be advised that these figures should not be compared between Health Boards, as some of them may have a small number of patients that could lead to variations.

Health Board Waiting within 6 week Standard (%)
NHS Ayrshire & Arran 65.1
NHS Borders 61
NHS Dumfries & Galloway 97.6
NHS Fife 98.4
NHS Forth Valley 98.1
NHS Golden Jubilee National Hospital 100.0
NHS Grampian 67.7
NHS Greater Glasgow & Clyde 76.1
NHS Highland 74.3
NHS Lanarkshire 97.4
NHS Lothian 66.2
NHS Orkney 96.8
NHS Shetland 100.0
NHS Tayside 90.9
NHS Western Isles 69.6

About Cancer Research UK

• Cancer Research UK is the world’s leading cancer charity dedicated to saving lives through research.
• Cancer Research UK’s pioneering work into the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of cancer has helped save millions of lives.
• Cancer Research UK receives no government funding for its life-saving research. Every step it makes towards beating cancer relies on every donation made.
• Cancer Research UK has been at the heart of the progress that has already seen survival in the UK double in the last 40 years.
• Today, 2 in 4 people survive their cancer for at least 10 years. Cancer Research UK’s ambition is to accelerate progress so that by 2034, 3 in 4 people will survive their cancer for at least 10 years.
• Cancer Research UK supports research into all aspects of cancer through the work of over 4,000 scientists, doctors and nurses.
• Together with its partners and supporters, Cancer Research UK’s vision is to bring forward the day when all cancers are cured.

For further information about Cancer Research UK’s work or to find out how to support the charity, please call 0300 123 1022 or visit www.cancerresearchuk.org. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook


Smart Energy GB

Good to catch up with Smart Energy GB at conference. Over 27,000 households in the Highlands & Islands region now have a smart meter. If you would like to upgrade, contact your energy supplier.

Skills Development Scotland’s Apprenticeship Week 2019.

Labour Highlands and Islands Regional MSP, Rhoda Grant yesterday (4th March 2019) visited the scenic Highland Farm Café in Dingwall to meet some of the Apprentices during Skills Development Scotland’s Apprenticeship Week 2019.

Scottish Apprenticeship Week highlights the benefits apprenticeships bring to individuals, businesses and the economy. This year’s theme is “Skills for the Future”, which is to recognise the importance of investing in the workforce while also celebrating the achievements of individual apprentices.

Mrs Grant met Mairi and Graeme who are two Apprentices currently hired by Highland Farm Café under an apprenticeship.

“It’s wonderful to celebrate this week and to remind individuals that there are different options for your chosen career”, said Rhoda Grant

She continued “Some people just cannot sit in a classroom full-time and need that practical experience thus an apprenticeship would be ideal.”

“I’m delighted to support this week and I applaud businesses such as Highland Farm Café who take part in these schemes.“

Highland MSP disappointed after meeting with Cabinet Secretary over Stromeferry Bypass


Highlands & Islands Regional MSP, Rhoda Grant, has strived for many years to persuade the local Authority and the Government to expedite improvements to either the existing Stromeferry Bypass or to build another road. Her driver was always to make the route safer for all road users, particularly the children who travel the route twice a day from and to Lochcarron and the surrounding area.  However, after meeting face to face with the Cabinet Secretary for Transport, Michael Matheson she was left feeling very disappointed.


Rhoda said ” I asked for this meeting at the end of last year, as the whole issue of the Stromeferry bypass keeps getting kicked into the long grass and it is an issue that has gone on now for nearly forty years. I doubt very much whether there would be this dragging of feet if the route passed a more urban area down in the central belt.


” The fact of the matter is a simple one to understand. Highland Council have responsibility for this route currently, as it is part of the massive 7000km of road that they have to look after. The Council like all others in Scotland have had to face making drastic cuts thanks to the cuts in funding received from the Government after their budget pact with their bedfellows the Greens. Highland Council cannot afford the funding for the options proposed to address the Stromeferry bypass problem, which amount to somewhere between £70 million and £120million. So they and indeed I, have for some time been asking for Government assistance. I have suggested on more than one occasion that the Government should take over responsibility for this road given it is the gateway to Southwest Ross and the Uists. Highland Council for their part have asked for extra funding because of the geographic nature of the vast area of roads and infrastructure that they have to cover.


” The Government have consistently knocked back all proposals and suggestions.


” Yesterday, I met with Michael Matheson, the Cabinet Secretary for Transport and to be frank, I was less than impressed. Put simply, the Cabinet Secretary has absolutely no intention of the Government or Transport Scotland adopting this route as a trunk road and I got the distinct impression that he was washing his hands of any responsibility stating repeatedly to me that this was an issue for Highland Council and they had to deal with it, despite me emphasising that lives were at risk.


Rhoda Grant concluded “This whole matter is frustrating. Those in authority keep passing the buck and all the time the people who use this route have to do so knowing it is not safe. What will happen before action to be taken and how long will this issue be allowed to drag on.










Openreach Visit

I was delighted to be out in the field with Openreach engineers on Friday to see the progress being made on high-speed broadband in Highlands and Islands.
Good connectivity is absolutely vital for a strong local economy and, with around 14 per cent of Highland households still only able to get a broadband speed of less than 10Mbps, I’m determined to make sure that progress continues at pace.


Openreach Inverness
Kelly Christie demonstrates Openreach Fibre cabinet to Rhoda Grant MSP
Pic Trevor Martin
Openreach Inverness
Alan Burgess Senior Engineer demonstrates Openreach Fibre components to Rhoda Grant MSP
Pic Trevor Martin
Openreach Inverness
Kelly Christie demonstrates Openreach Fibre cabinet to Rhoda Grant MSP
Pic Trevor Martin