Changes to cancer therapy in Ayrshire have been positive for most patients, according to a new report.

The West of Scotland Cancer Network, made up of four health boards, including Ayrshire and Arran, announced a redesign of Systemic Anti-Cancer Therapy (SACT) just months before the onset of Covid in early 2020.

A report to Ayrshire and Arran Health Board said: “During the initial Covid pandemic response it was necessary to adapt very quickly to develop a pathway of care for managing patients with Covid alongside maintaining a level of service for other patients.

"As a result, a series of interim changes took place across SACT services to ensure a high quality, risk stratified and safe service for our patients and staff.”

Practically, this meant moving inpatient beds from Station 15, Ayr Hospital, to Crosshouse and relocating the outpatient service from Ayr Hospital the repurposed Kyle unit at Ailsa Hospital.

The report continued: “Feedback from patients and staff has been extremely positive, however the urgency of the situation did not allow time to involve or engage with public as we would normally.”

The changes that were made would have ordinarily required consultation, but the pandemic saw those rules scrapped.

In 2022 NHS Ayrshire and Arran was told that as they represented ‘major’ service change, a consultation would now be required.

However, it would not have any influence over whether the changes should be reversed or influenced.

Instead it was designed to explain the changes that have taken place and seek views and feedback on the proposal to maintain the model.

The report said: “It is our view that the relocation of the SACT inpatient ward and Tier 2 (high-risk) day case from UHA to UHC cannot be reversed or influenced.”

The model required a single Tier 2 cancer unit in Ayrshire and Arran and at least one Tier 3 day case outreach facility.

The report stated: “During the pandemic it was not possible to inform and engage with our citizens and communities in the normal ways. However engagement with patients and staff was undertaken.

“The feedback gathered has been positive and supportive of the current service change.

“We did ensure to seek feedback on suggestions that could potentially enhance the current inpatient and Tier 2 service.”

The consultation asked people to comment on the effectiveness of the information provided and on the proposal to retain the Kyle Chemotherapy Unit at Ailsa Hospital campus, Ayr.

The following feedback was received:

  • 90.96 per cent said the information to make changes to SACT to ensure a safer service was clear;
  • 91.52 per cent understood the way the regional tiered approach was developed;
  • 87.88 per cent agreed the summary of proposals were clear;
  • 87.27 per cent were supportive of retaining the Kyle unit at Ailsa for the Tier 3 service.

Patient feedback also provided views on elements such as travel to appointments, telephone consultation and parking at facilities.

The report said: “Like the public survey responses, there was much support from patients to retain the Kyle Chemotherapy Unit.

“All comments in relation to the Kyle Chemotherapy Unit were positive and mentioned the efficient service, easy access, good parking, fantastic staff and comfortable and pleasant surroundings.”

The report did acknowledge a ‘significant’ number of negative comments around parking at Crosshouse Hospital, while there were many positive comments about ease of access and good parking at Ailsa Hospital.

Patients ‘generally understood and agreed with the clinical reasons behind then proposal and telephone consultations were generally seen as positive.

The survey also found that just three patients, out of 187 who responded, used public transport to access the service.