I sympathise profoundly with anyone affected by blood cancer and I pay tribute to Anthony Nolan Scotland for the work it does in conducting vital research and supporting those with this disease.
Anthony Nolan and the NHS Stem Cell Registry have given thousands of people the opportunity to have a transplant where they previously may not have been able to be matched with a donor, and I am especially impressed that over 58,000 people in Scotland have joined the register.
A stem cell transplant can offer a second chance of life for people with blood cancer and other blood disorders. However, for some patients the recovery after a stem cell transplantation can be a long and difficult journey. I know that patients often experience severe psychological and emotional stress due to the aggressive nature of the treatment and the need for prolonged hospital stays. I was therefore concerned to learn from a survey by Anthony Nolan that only half of patients recovering from stem cell transplants received emotional and psychological support.
As you may be aware, health is a devolved matter for the Scottish Parliament. While I welcomed many of the initiatives in the Scottish Government’s Cancer Strategy, launched last year, I would like to see better performance on cancer waiting times, and improvement in screening and diagnosis. I believe too little is being done to address the general underlying issues of public health, and health inequalities, both of which are directly linked to cancer.
I hope the Government gives careful consideration to the recommendations outlined in Anthony Nolan’s report.