Sturgeon on the spot over discriminatory and ageist policy

Sturgeon grilled over cancer screening policy

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In Scotland, only women between the ages of 50 and 70 are offered breast screening every 3 years. But Jackie Baillie MSP pointed out that self-referred screening is still paused for women over 70 since the pandemic started. In Scottish parliament, she said: “The breast screening programme was paused for all women during the pandemic and paused even longer for women over 70.

“It would appear that a further restriction has been applied and women over 75 are being denied breast cancer screening.

“My constituent who raised this with me described this decision as discriminatory and ageist.

“Can the First Minister advise whether this restriction is just in Greater Glasgow and Clyde or does this apply Scotland-wide and if so will she reverse this decision?”

Ms Sturgeon replied: “I’ll ask the Health Secretary to write to the member on the detail of that because it’s important that we make sure that is right.

“In terms of the restoration of the breast screening for the age groups for which breast screening is advised that is already has happened.

“In terms of the older age groups which are on a self-referral basis that has been done in a phased way but I’ll come back to Jackie Baillie via the Health Secretary on the detail of that.”

It comes as Health Secretary Humza Yousaf has been told to “stop side-stepping” long Covid as opposition MSPs called for a support service to be rolled out to help thousands of Scots.

The Scottish Government has been urged to adopt a digital service offering help which is currently only available to long Covid patients in Edinburgh and Midlothian.

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Ms Baillie, Tory Sandesh Gulhane and Alex Cole-Hamilton, of the Liberal Democrats, have said the service offered by the Chest Heart & Stroke Scotland (CHSS) charity will ensure the 180,000 people with long Covid have access to adequate support.

The charity worked with NHS Lothian and Pogo Digital Healthcare to create a digital platform called My Tailored Talks, which brings primary care and third-sector services together for the first time.

It enables GPs to refer patients directly to tailored self-management information and CHSS’s long Covid support services.

The system aims to improve patient care while limiting pressure on GPs, the charity said.

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In a letter to Mr Yousaf, the opposition MSPs said: “It is simply not acceptable for so little support to be available, or for it to be so inconsistent across the country.

“We desperately need the Scottish Government to take more action and provide the services that people have been asking for two years.

“We’re calling on the Scottish Government to support Chest Heart & Stroke Scotland to roll out the long Covid pathway across Scotland to make sure everyone with this condition has access to practical and emotional support, no matter where they live.

“The Scottish Government needs to take action to support people with long Covid now.”

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