The NHS in Scotland spent more than £200,000 sending patients with chronic back pain for treatment in England, it has emerged.
Figures obtained by Labour MSP Jackie Baillie show that eight of Scotland’s 14 health boards sent patients suffering with chronic pain for treatment at the Royal National Hospital for Rheumatic Diseases in Bath at a cost of £206,685.
They also showed that 23 patients were sent to Bath in 2008-09 and 18 in 2009-10, bringing the total cost to more than £620,000.
Ms Bailie said: “Forcing patients who are already suffering from painful conditions to endure long journeys away from friends and family to receive treatment should be avoided if at all possible.
“These figures show that it is also very expensive.
“As a matter of urgency, the health secretary, Nicola Sturgeon, must look at what can be done to provide patients with appropriate care closer to home.”
In response, Ms Sturgeon said: “The Royal National Hospital for Rheumatic Diseases, in Bath, is a highly specialised residential pain management facility.
“Scottish patients are referred there if their clinician believes it would be beneficial for their condition.
“However, we have been looking at the issue of sending people to England for treatment as part of the integrated service model for chronic pain that we’ve been developing.
“We are exploring a range of issues, including whether appropriate management earlier in the treatment journey might remove the need for such referrals, and whether there is a role for a residential pain management facility as part of the overall service provision in Scotland.”
The Scottish government said the number of people sent for treatment at Bath had fallen since a high of 34 under the previous Labour-Liberal Democrat Scottish Executive.
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