Forth Valley Maggie’s centre to be part of Scottish Government pre-treatment pilot

Cancer patients will be urged to exercise and eat healthily while they wait for treatment as part of a new government pilot scheme.

By Jill Buchanan
Thursday, 5th August 2021, 4:45 pm
Updated Thursday, 5th August 2021, 6:45 pm

It comes as waiting times for cancer treatment in Scotland is at a two-year high.

Latest statistics show that only 83 per cent of suspected cancer patients starting their urgent treatment in the two-month target time.

Now the government has announced it is trialling prehabilitation – pre-treatment rehabilitation which will be offered at all eight Maggie’s centres across the country, including the Forth Valley base in Larbert.

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Maggie's Centre is part of a Scotland-wide pilot project to help cancer patients

It will include advice on nutrition, exercise and mental health while they wait.

The Scottish Government is spending £270,000 on the pilot project.

Announcing the initiative as he visited the Maggie’s Centre in Dundee, Health Secretary Humza Yousaf said: “Prehabilitation enables people with cancer to physically and mentally prepare for treatment by adopting healthy behaviours – with the ultimate aim of improving outcomes for them. It can reduce the length of stay in hospital and post-treatment complications, and improve recovery, fitness, nutritional status, neuro-cognitive function and quality of life.

“This pilot scheme will help us understand how the NHS and Third Sector can work together to help people ahead of their cancer treatment.

“With eight centres across Scotland, working with Maggie’s allows us to meet the needs of cancer patients close to home. We want to empower them to get the best possible results from their treatment, and improve their long-term health.

“Cancer treatment has remained a top priority for the Scottish Government and NHS Scotland throughout the Covid-19 pandemic.”

Maggie’s Chief Executive Dame Laura Lee said: “We are delighted to be working with the Scottish Government to support people with new cancer diagnoses to understand the benefits of making changes before treatment begins.

“Gentle exercise, eating well and emotional and psychological support are already aspects of the Maggie’s core programme of support - but this usually comes after the patient has started treatment. This new project will ensure newly diagnosed people find support sooner, and will be delivered while working with the NHS as part of their overall care package.”

Of the 3601 patients urgently referred for treatment with suspected cancer in the first quarter of the year, 2,988 (83 per cent) started treatment within 62 days.

The latest NHS Scotland statistics also show a 2.9 per cent increase in the number of cancer patients in the first three months of 2021 compared to the previous quarter.,

The average waiting time was 43 days, although the maximum recorded wait was 244 days.

Across Scotland, the Scottish Government’s target of 95 per cent of eligible patients waiting for treatment was only met by two health boards - NHS Shetland and NHS Borders.

However, once a decision to treat the cancer was made, 97.7% of patients started treatment within the 31-day target, with an average wait of five days.

Maggie’s has 25 years of experience providing free cancer support and information in centres across the UK. Scotland’s eight centres are: Forth Valley, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Highlands, Aberdeen, Fife, Lanarkshire and Dundee.

Anyone diagnosed with cancer who is interested in prehabilitation can speak to their cancer care team, or contact their local Maggie’s centre.

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