In the Scottish Parliament this week, Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MSP Alasdair Allan raised concerns around patient escorts with Health Secretary Humza Yousaf.

The islands MSP mentioned an occasion, towards the end of last year, where local charity Western Isles Cancer Care Initiative (WICCI) stepped in to make sure a cancer patient was able to have a friend accompany them to a mainland appointment, after the local health board declined a patient escort request.

Allan said the refusal of patient escorts had become all too common in the Western Isles in recent years and asked the Cabinet Secretary if he agreed that patients shouldn’t be disadvantaged in terms of the emotional support they can draw upon, just because they live on an island.

The Cabinet Secretary agreed, saying that he was very sympathetic to the issues raised and would look at them in more detail.

Commenting Alasdair Allan said:

“Western Isles patients being denied as escort has continued to be an issue and I’ve raised a number of cases with the health board in recent months.

“For people who live on the mainland, it must be strange to imagine having to undergo something as worrying as cancer treatment without the support of a loved one. However, in the past few years this has become an all too common scenario in the Western Isles since the handling of patient escort applications changed.

“We simply should not have a situation where local charities like WICCI have to step in to fund an escort that has been denied by the health board.

“I am grateful for the Cabinet Secretary’s understanding and positive response. I understand that the pandemic has held back work on things like the Scotland-wide review of arrangements for the provision of financial support for patients. However, we do need to see changes in this area sooner rather than later.”



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