Scottish cancer patient cancels hospital appointment due to rising travel costs and ‘inconvenience’

A Scottish cancer patient has canceled a hospital appointment due to inconvenience and increased travel costs.

Stuart Roxburgh, 82, from Lochmaben in Dumfries has to go to Edinburgh Royal Infirmary for checks every six months because he cannot access services closer to home.

But soaring petrol prices and the “total inconvenience” of having to travel 210km and back for a 10-minute appointment became too much for him to bear.

Mr Roxburgh said: ‘With the price of petrol and something to eat while I have an hour and a half left to wait for a 10 minute appointment, that now seems like too much.

“It is also the principle of the thing. Patients from this area should not have to travel to Edinburgh for these appointments.

“I have decided to cancel my next appointment scheduled for August.

“It makes me wonder how many other people in Dumfries and Galloway might be putting their lives at risk by also canceling because it’s unaffordable and inconvenient to make the trip.

“It’s a sad situation.”

Mr Roxburgh welcomed news that a petition calling for improved rural health care in the region has been submitted to MSPs.

The Scottish Parliament’s Public Petitions Committee agreed on Wednesday to consider former doctor Gordon Baird’s petition on behalf of the Galloway Community Hospital Action Group.

The group is calling for a widespread review of cancer care in Dumfries and Galloway to try to reduce long journeys for treatment.

Stranraer patients can drive 135 miles, one way, to Edinburgh for radiotherapy and scans.

NHS Dumfries and Galloway said staffing and equipment issues made offering some services locally “unlikely”.

The arrangement for patients to be treated in Edinburgh has long existed between the health board and NHS Lothian.

However, Dr Baird launched a petition last year on behalf of the group calling for the creation of an agency dedicated to rural health issues headed by a rural health commissioner.

MSPs Finlay Carson and Emma Harper both backed the call and raised the issue at Holyrood.

Ms Harper, of the SNP, said: “The current arrangements – where people often travel a 260 mile round trip from Stranraer to Edinburgh when Glasgow is closer – are archaic and voters are asking for a change.”

Galloway and West Dumfries Tory MSP Mr Carson described it as ‘a dismal situation’.

Mr Roxburgh, who was born with pancreatic disease which caused slow liver failure, was on the 500th liver transplant in Scotland almost 20 years ago.

Since then, he has been twice diagnosed with skin cancer and liver cancer.

He said: “This area is getting bigger and bigger and it’s time we had facilities here similar to those in Edinburgh.”

“I would certainly support a review of services in Dumfries and Galloway and am glad MSPs have agreed to look at the petition.

“It’s a hopeless situation and the sooner something is done the better.”

Dumfries’ wife Rea Hunter, 39, has also called for an urgent review of cancer care services after her mother had to endure four-hour trips from her home in Dalbeattie to Edinburgh “writhing from pain” for a treatment that only took 12 minutes.

Rea spoke out after her mother Olivia Craig died in January after being diagnosed in November.

She called the current situation “deplorable” and said that “animals are treated with more dignity and compassion” than patients.

She added: ‘It is an absolute travesty that sick, dying people are subjected to a four hour round trip.

“We treat animals with more dignity and compassion.

“As a region with a population of nearly 140,000 and statistics suggesting that one in two people will be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime, it shouldn’t be like this.”

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