David Mundell is Conservative MP for Dumfriesshire, Clydesdale and Tweeddale

Fast-track NHS diagnosis worth piloting

EARLY diagnosis can be key to successful treatment and recovery with many serious illnesses.

That's why I was pleased to see confirmation that the Scottish Conservatives, should they take control at Holyrood, plan to introduce a fast-track diagnostic service for cancer patients to significantly improve waiting times in Scotland.

The system would allow for patients to be urgently referred for triage tests, which would be carried out by a dedicated team of clinicians, including nurse specialists.

In some cases they could undertake these tests and potentially provide test results on the same day allowing relevant treatment to be undertaken at the earliest possible time.

This approach, similar to a scheme being looked at in England, would significantly shorten waiting times for crucial diagnosis at a time when waiting periods have increased.

Like most of my MP and MSP colleagues, I know from constituents how important the NHS is on their list of priorities. Indeed, Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk MP John Lamont secured World Cancer Day debate in the House of Commons.

And I agree with Scottish Conservative health spokesman Miles Briggs, MSP, that far too many patients are waiting too long for treatment.

With Scottish Parliamentary elections most likely some time away, I fully support Miles' call to the SNP Scottish Government to pilot a fast-track diagnostic service themselves.

This would make a big difference to patients and their families in the Scottish Borders and across the country.

A knight to remember

MY THOUGHTS were with both Robert Burns and my friend and colleague Sir Alex Fergusson, former Scottish Parliament presiding officer, when I gave the Immortal Memory at a Burns Supper in Dumfries last Friday night.

The fundraiser was organised by Dumfries and Galloway Befriending Project, which offers extra support and positive adult attention to young people facing life challenges.

It was also dedicated to Sir Alex, who sadly died last summer, and was a strong supporter of the charity, including donating part of his presiding officer's pension.

Respected Burnsian Sir Alex, like the great man himself, was as much at home in the howff as the parlours of Edinburgh.

He was also that honest man, the man of independent mind, the man of sense, that Burns so valued.

Never succumbing to stereotype, Alex proved it was indeed possible to be a belted knight and a man o’ worth.

The proper gentleman; as Ruth Davidson described him, and as all those who worked with him knew.