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Local Cancer Care Plan Approved

CANCER patients in Wigtownshire could soon be receiving their chemotherapy treatment in Stranraer.

Dumfries and Galloway NHS Board this week approved a business case to develop a community-based service in the west of the region.

And this could see half of the estimated 85 patients a year receiving the treatment no longer having to travel to the Royal Infirmary in Dumfries.

A bid is to be made to Macmillan Cancer Relief to cover the first two years’ cost of the service, expected to be in the region of £50,000.

The Health Board made the decision at their monthly meeting, appropriately held this week in Stranraer, as part of a large-scale review of the chemotherapy services.

Officials hailed it as a further significant commitment and investment in Wigtownshire health care services.

Chairman of NHS Dumfries and Galloway John Ross said: “This month’s board meeting held in Stranraer has proved to be a very good one for the local community.

“Following the major service developments, already approved and fully implemented in the area — the new Galloway Community Hospital; the provision of CT scanning; the new satellite renal unit and the investment in GP practices at Sandhead and Drummore — the board has once again demonstrated its commitment to the Wigtownshire area by taking this very important decision to develop chemotherapy services for the whole region.

“In particular, providing a local service based at the Galloway Community Hospital will be of great benefit to folk in this area, in many cases avoiding the need for them to make long and tiring journeys either to Dumfries, or outwith the region for treatment.”

Members were told there was strong public and clinical support in the area to develop a chemotherapy service based in Galloway Community Hospital.

Between 75 and 85 patients a year travel from Wigtownshire for chemotherapy treatment and between a third and half of those, when the service is up and running, could be considered for receiving some of their treatment in Stranraer.

The benefits would be reduced travelling and travelling costs for patients and relatives, an increased uptake of services, improved patient satisfaction and more quality added to treatment options and a less fragmented service in remoter areas.

The plan is for a satellite service at Galloway Community Hospital by a nurse-led out-reach team.

The service would be run when an oncologist was present at Dumfries and Galloway Royal Infirmary.

A senior staff member would be in Stranraer to oversee the service and senior nurses will be trained to administer chemotherapy.

And further medical input would be available from doctors in the Stranraer hospital.

Mr Ross said: “I commend the team preparing the business case for their thoroughness and for their clear outline of the way ahead and look forward to their actions in taking this major development forward.

“I was also delighted that this week’s meeting in Stranraer enabled our members to visit in particular the two rural GP practices at Sandhead and Drummore and see at first hand these most recent developments and to learn something of the services provided from them.

“In addition, members also visited the Waverley Medical Centre and the Galloway Community Hospital and observed the range of high quality healthcare services delivered locally.

“These were extremely valuable visits to make and they served to increase board members’ understanding of the complexity, range and quality of the services we are able to provide in the west of the region.”

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