Local MP John Lamont has called for better support for cancer patients in the Borders who have to travel for treatment, in a debate he has led in Westminster this week.
Ahead of World Cancer Day on Monday 4th February, Members of Parliament took part in a Westminster Hall debate on tackling cancer.
Opening the debate, the Borders MP praised the work of local charities, volunteers and healthcare staff at NHS Borders for their hard work tackling cancer.
He also said the whole of the UK could work better together and called for a UK wide approach to buying drugs and equipment in cases when doing so would make them more affordable.
The MP raised the issue of additional costs to patients in the Borders who have to travel to Edinburgh for treatment. During the debate, John suggested the UK Government could support patients by making changes to the welfare system.
On Monday 4th February, the House of Parliament will be illuminated to promote World Cancer Day. The idea was suggested by Selkirk based Cancer Research UK volunteer, Elaine Monro to John, who made the formal request.
Speaking in Westminster, John Lamont MP said: “Each year, the global cancer community is united in seeking to raise awareness about cancer prevention and treatment. I am pleased that this Parliament will be marking World Cancer Day in such a public and clear way on Monday.”
Speaking about the challenges the UK faces, John said: “We have made great strides in treating cancer in recent years, thanks in no small part to the work of charities, researchers and health professionals.
“Yet cancer continues to affect far too many people in the UK and we need to get better at diagnosing cancer early and treating it quickly.”
On working across the UK to better tackle cancer, John added:
“World Cancer Day is all about recognising that cancer knows no boundaries and individual governments cannot address these challenges in isolation. This begs the question, are the UK and devolved Governments working as well together on this issue as they could be.
“Should we, for example, be buying some drugs and equipment on a UK wide basis? And are health boards across the UK as good as they can be at talking to each other and sharing best practice?
“No single person, organisation, or country is going to beat cancer on its own. We must all work together.”
On additional costs for cancer patients in the Borders, John Lamont said: “Parents spend on average £600 in additional expenses a month as a result of their child’s active cancer treatment, much of this on travel costs. Young people in my constituency, for example, often have to make a 100-mile round trip to Edinburgh for tests and treatment.
“Children’s cancer charity CLIC Sargent are calling for a Cancer Patients Travel Fund as well as a review of DLA and PIP so that young cancer patients can get financial support backdated from the day of diagnosis and I certainly think these are reasonable suggestions.”
In his response, the Cancer Minister, Steve Brine MP said he supported more collaboration between health organisations across the UK and would “explore ways to make that happen.” On the calls to use the welfare system to better support patients he said he would pass these concerns on to Ministers, agreeing that this point had been “well made.”