LATEST figures show more than 26,000 Borders patients have been sent 'out of area' for treatment in the last three years.

A Freedom of Information request submitted to NHS Borders revealed 26,291 people had to travel outwith the region; with 8,930 transferred in 2016/17 alone.

The statistics show that patients have had to go as far as Glasgow and into England at North Cumbria and Newcastle.

And Borders MSP Rachael Hamilton wants to see that number reduced.
The member for Ettrick, Roxburgh and Berwickshire said: "In some cases it is unavoidable for a patient to stay within their health board area. 

"However, concerns do arise when a patient has to make almost a 200-mile round trip for treatment or a cross-border visit.

"I am sure where possible and for the majority of folk it would be preferable to be close to home and stay within their health board than make a journey to unfamiliar surroundings and avoid the extra stress and anxiety such a journey can cause.

"I will write to the Cabinet Secretary for Health and Sport to see how such instances can be reduced."

The longest round-trip made throughout the three years was to the Golden Jubilee National Hospital in Glasgow – 183.6 miles.

Meanwhile, a cross-border return trip to Royal Victoria Infirmary, in Newcastle is 140.6 miles.

But NHS Borders insists patients are only sent out of the region if treatment cannot be provided in the region.

A spokesperson told us: "NHS Borders always endeavours to provide patient care locally, if we possibly can. 

"Some particular conditions require patients to receive highly specialist care which is only available at specialist centres that are located outwith the Scottish Borders area.

"For example, the majority of patients sent out with the area receive specialised treatment at NHS Lothian for cancer treatments (e.g. radiotherapy) and specialist surgical procedures like complex spinal surgery, neurosurgery, complex cardiac surgery and reconstructive surgery.

"Those very specialist treatments are most safely provided in tertiary centres like Edinburgh Royal Infirmary and occasionally Newcastle, which is in the overall best interests of Borders patients."