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In the Holyrood Education, Communities and Justice Committee on Tuesday 29th October 2019:

Jenny Marra (North East Scotland) (Scottish Labour): To ask the Scottish Government when it will acknowledge and reply to the letter of 22 April 2019 from the Head of the School of Mathematics and Statistics at the University of St Andrews, Professor Mark Chaplain, which set out a mathematical and scientific assessment of the breast cancer dosages in NHS Tayside.

Holding answer issued: 29 October 2019 (S5W-25579) Jeane Freeman: A holding answer was provided.

Click to access WA20191029.pdf

Boy, has she changed her tune! Professor Chaplain’s arrival on the scene to defend NHS Tayside’s Oncology Department and their decision to use lower doses of chemotherapy was not what she and, of course, Reporting Scotland, wanted to hear as they gorged on the possibility that the department might be ‘dysfunctional’, as Lisa Summers hoped it might be. On April 5th, in the Dundee Courier, she said:

There should be a public inquiry established with urgency to clarify why this situation was allowed to happen and went unchallenged until a whistle-blower had the courage to speak out. Serious questions need to be asked of the doctors and management at Ninewells. Staff said they were in ‘lockdown’ and had to continue to give low dosages of chemotherapy.

Then on the 29th May in the Herald:

Whilst the past can’t be changed, the Scottish Government must learn lessons to ensure that these kinds of issues don’t emerge again. She spoke out after the committee report found the events that came to light in 2018 revealed a systemic failure of governance at NHS Tayside.

In between, Marra must have missed Prof Chaplain’s entry as he demolished the basis for the whole hysterical mediated frenzy:

The health board was criticised after 304 breast cancer patients were given lower doses of chemotherapy than patients elsewhere in Scotland. But Professor Mark Chaplain says there is international evidence to suggest lower dosages don’t harm patients.

A series of reviews were carried out following the discovery, including one commissioned by the Scottish government which concluded Tayside’s approach increased the risk of recurrence for one patient per year as a result and was judged as “being outwith best current practice, and close to being unacceptable”.

But Prof Chaplain, who specialises in analysing mathematical models of cancer growth at the University of St Andrews, pointed to a study in Finland which compared the difference between low and high chemotherapy treatments for breast cancer and found no inferior outcomes for patients on the lower dosages.


So, from being the avenging angel supporting the ‘armchair oncologists’ review to condemn NHS Tayside’s lower doses and the SNP Government by proxy, she quickly jumps ship when the good prof demolishes that and presents herself as the concerned champion of his work, now happy with those same the lower doses she so recently condemned, and tries to blame the SNP Government for delays in duplicating his evidence?