The ‘Tayside breast cancer scandal’ is merely a cynical media/opposition construct

It’s now more than two years since BBC Scotland’s health correspondent, Lisa Summers, took it upon herself to judge NHS Tayside’s Oncology department to be ‘dysfunctional’ after the medics there tried reduced lower chemotherapy doses to help the patients cope with frankly terrifying side-effects.

On 24 December 2021, the Dundee Courier announced the relaunch of a campaign headed-up by Dr Norman Pratt, a consultant geneticist, not an oncologist, Miles Briggs and Jackie Baillie for another formal investigation of the events.

As with the ongoing attempts to keep two child deaths at the QEUH in the public, political sphere, this is a political campaign constructed by sympathetic media to keep pressure on the SNP Government despite the case being long-settled to the satisfaction of expert opinion..

In April 2019, we at TuS found official data showing that, regardless of the experiment with lower doses, NHS Tayside had an average breast cancer death rate and, indeed, a lower one than NHS Grampian:

On May 2, 2019, St Andrews Professor Mark Chaplain was clear about the research:

‘Women on the lower dose, the same as used in Tayside benefited from fewer side-effects and they did not suffer any inferior chemotherapy treatment because they had statistically speaking, the same recurrence rate and survival probability as the women on the higher dose.’

Finally, in August 2019, we could read:

Dr David Dunlop told NHS Tayside the deaths between 2016 and 2018 were not linked to treatment variation. NHS Tayside had been criticised for offering lower doses of the drugs than in the rest of Scotland. Dr Dunlop said two cases were not relevant, one refused chemotherapy, and the rest had very poor prognoses.

4 thoughts on “The ‘Tayside breast cancer scandal’ is merely a cynical media/opposition construct

  1. It is such a pity that Scotland’s cancer specialists did not acquire the same qualifications as Jackie Baillie or Miles Briggs which allow them to determine cancer treatments better than those NHS consultants with a mere few decades of experience in the job .
    Perhaps Jackie and Miles could set up an Out-patient consultancy at Holyrood where they will be available most days – except when they are doing neurosurgery at a local hospital .

    Liked by 4 people

  2. Lisa Summers and her editorial handlers need to be weaned off their dependence on asserting guilt by association . Get them on a crash course on causality ASAP.


  3. The Courier’s article is certainly long but, candidly it seems to be working hard to obscure the actual nature of the issue in dispute.

    The headline: ‘Calls for independent probe into Tayside breast cancer scandal as missed chances to curb crisis revealed – Nicola Sturgeon is under pressure to launch an independent inquiry into a breast cancer treatment scandal in Tayside, ….’.

    So the introduction is designed to be ‘scary’ – it’s a cancer TREATMENT scandal!

    Then we’re told: ‘They (patients) were given “lower than standard” chemotherapy doses before April 2019, as detailed in a Healthcare Improvement Scotland report ordered by ministers.’ So is that the ‘scandal’ – patients treated in a non-standard way and by implication, harmed as a result? Easy to jump to that conclusion methinks!

    My reading of the Courier article is that the so called ‘scandal’ claim relates to alleged NHS Tayside MANAGEMENT actions when the information on the treatment first came to light, not to the nature of actual treatment given to patients and their outcomes. But, candidly that is not the impression one might get from a quick read – either due to poor writing or deliberate obfuscation?

    You have to persist to the end of this very long (and IMHO) convoluted article before gaining reassurance that the ‘scandal’ is NOT about harmful cancer treatment:

    ‘Further expert opinion, collated by NHS Tayside consultants, includes a top breast cancer doctor at the Royal Marsden Hospital in London, who stated the decision to lower doses “was a reasonable one” and one she agrees with.

    ‘Her view is that it is “very unlikely” the reduction in dose “could have any clinically relevant detrimental effect on any aspect of outcome”, adding that she thinks it is “even more unlikely that it could significantly reduce survival chances”.

    ‘Meanwhile, a Scots oncologist, who has gone through breast cancer treatment, said the doctors should be “commended” for adjusting the dose after auditing the “very high rates” of toxicity experienced by their patients from the higher amount.

    ‘She added: “Crucially the evidence base for this level of dose reduction translating into a negative impact on survival is entirely lacking.”

    Liked by 3 people

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.