Local Cancer Patient Teams Up with MSP to Promote Bowel Cancer Awareness Month

9 March 2019

A cancer patient from Brydekirk has reached out to local MSP Joan McAlpine to ask for help promoting Bowel Cancer Awareness Month this April and to encourage others to undertake their regular screening tests.

Mrs Myra Little was diagnosed with bowel cancer at the end of January after sending off a routine screening sample in the post. She received a letter back right away telling her that cancer cells had been detected. Within seven days she’d had a colonoscopy, a week later a scan and a week after that had undergone surgery to remove the tumour.

“I’d heard stories about waiting times for treatment so was afraid when I first got the diagnosis,” says Mrs Little. “But the service I’ve had has been incredible and I was so relieved when the tumour was fully removed within just 21 days. I’m so grateful for everything the NHS has done for me and I can’t thank them enough. We’re so lucky to have such hard working, dedicated people in the NHS who care for us so well. I still have to undergo a course of chemotherapy to stop the cancer returning but I’m confident going forward that I’ll receive the best care possible.”

Mrs Little wanted to take advantage of Bowel Cancer Awareness Month to encourage others take part in the screening process. “The bowel screening kit is such a brilliant initiative, everyone should complete it so that no cases go undiagnosed. If I hadn’t sent off mine it might have been too late by the time I found out.”

SNP MSP Joan McAlpine agrees. Commenting, she says,

“I’m delighted that Mrs Little has had such a positive experience with our local NHS, and that her treatment has been so prompt and successful. It’s great that she’s now speaking up to encourage others to carry out their tests and send them back.

“Like Mrs Little, many people with bowel cancer show no symptoms. That’s why it’s really important to undergo regular screening. The test kits are posted out to everyone on a regular basis once you reach 50. It’s been simplified so it’s really quick and easy to carry out at home yourself.

“I’d encourage everyone to send back their sample as soon as possible after they arrive through the post. It’s a free service, it’s really effective it could save your life.”


Notes to Editors:

Image of Joan McAlpine MSP and Myra Little attached

Bowel Cancer Awareness Month is an initiative promoted by the charity Bowel Cancer UK, it takes place throughout April.

More information on is available at https://www.bowelcanceruk.org.uk/support-us/bowel-cancer-awareness-month

Joan McAlpine Delighted by Win for Telfers

South Scotland MSP Joan McAlpine has welcomed news that tenant farmers, David and Alison Telfer from Canonbie, have won their fight against eviction from their farm at Cleuchfoot, near Canonbie.


Ms McAlpine has been campaigning on behalf of the couple and has raised their plight in parliament, the media and with the Scottish Land Commission.


Now a deal has been brokered between the commission’s tenant farming representative and the new owners of the land which the Telfers tenant.


They’d been told to leave by the Duke of Buccleuch when he put the land up for sale as part of the Evertown Estate last year. The couple had previously been under the impression they could remain until their retirement in a few years’ time, but the Duke then changed his mind. Over 89,000 people had signed a 38 Degrees petition asking him to reconsider and accusing him of removing tenants to secure lucrative forestry grants. The Duke went ahead with his plans anyway.


But now the new owner, James Jones of James Jones & Sons Ltd, the timber manufacturers in Lockerbie, has agreed to let the Telfers remain at the farm until their original retirement date. 


Commenting, Ms McAlpine says,


“I’m delighted to hear that the Telfers have won their fight to remain at Cleuchfoot. They’ve been at the farm for over 20 years and had expected remain there for the rest of their working lives. It was a shock for them to be told they’d have to move away and start over again with just a few years to go until they retired.


“The new owners, James Jones & Sons Ltd deserve credit for extending the Telfer’s lease. They were under no legal obligation to keep them on but I believe they have made the right moral decision.


“I know, too, that Bob McIntosh, the Tenant Farming Commissioner at The Scottish Land Commission has been working with both the Telfers and the new owners to find an amicable solution. I’d like to thank Bob for all his hard work on this case, it shows the commission, which was set up as part of the SNP’s land reform programme, is really making a difference in rural Scotland. I’m delighted that their intervention has led to such a positive outcome.”

"I'd also like to thank the organisers of the 38 Degrees petition who gathered 89,000 names of people who wanted to support Alison and David."



McAlpine Challenges Health Boss Over Provision for Kids with Epilepsy

South Scotland MSP Joan McAlpine has written to local NHS Chief, Nick Morris, to challenge his reasons for failing to back a campaign to appoint a clinical nurse specialist for children with epilepsy in Dumfries and Galloway.


NHS D&G is the only health board area in Scotland that doesn’t employ a dedicated paediatric epilepsy nurse. This is despite claims by Epilepsy Scotland, Epilepsy Action and the Royal College of Nursing that the role is essential for children with the condition,


The SNP MSP had teamed up with local parents of children with epilepsy to campaign for the appointment of the nurse. But Mr Morris, the Chairman of NHS Dumfries & Galloway, says the role is unnecessary because they already employ a hospital based Community Children’s Nurse who has had training in epilepsy.


The group of parents who established the campaign disagree. They say the CNN has been unable to offer them the level of care that their children require with some of them yet to have any contact at all.  Others say CCN’s are in no way trained to the level of a specialist paediatric nurse and are unable to offer the kind of direct support relationship with them that a specialist nurse could.


Commenting, Ms McAlpine says,


“I’ve written to Mr Morris to ask him to meet with the parents. Children’s services in NHS Dumfries and Galloway are currently undertaking a service needs analysis and the meeting would be beneficial in contributing towards this analysis.


“Mr Morris has claimed that only 20 children in the region require access to a Community Children’s Nurse out of an estimated 40 to 50 who have epilepsy. However, Epilepsy Scotland dispute that figure. They say it’s more like 150 children in Dumfries & Galloway who are suffering from the condition.


“I’m very concerned that the figures being quoted by the health board are being disputed by both people with lived experience and the main epilepsy charity, and believe more work needs to be done on this. But even if the NHS is correct it’s still unacceptable that only twenty children have a healthcare plan in relation to rescue medication in epilepsy or for managing seizures, when potentially a lot more require them.”


“I’ve also written to the Scottish Health Secretary, Jeanne Freeman, to ask for her support. The need for a specialist nurse in our region is even more acute than in other areas of the country because the consultant paediatric neurologist who specialises in epilepsy is based in Glasgow and only visits the region every few months. Also, Scottish Borders have their own paediatric epilepsy nurse despite having an even smaller population than Dumfries and Galloway.”



7/3/19 McAlpine Praises Rise in Staff Numbers for NHS Dumfries and Galloway

SNP MSP for South Scotland Joan McAlpine has praised hard working staff at NHS Dumfries and Galloway after the latest statistics showed increased staffing levels across Scotland - helping give patients the best possible care.

The region is benefitting from an increase in the numbers of staff working for NHS Dumfries and Galloway - part of a Scotland-wide increase that has seen the NHS workforce reach record levels in 2018.

NHS Dumfries and Galloway had its full-time equivalent staff levels increase from 3537 to 3670 - a rise of 3.8%.

Thanks to the SNP's 2019/20 budget, NHS Dumfries and Galloway is set to receive an extra £10m in spending power - a 3.5% increase on last year's spending.

Commenting, SNP MSP for South Scotland Joan McAlpine says:

"Staff are the lifeblood of our NHS here in Dumfries and Galloway - and it is welcome news there are record numbers working in our hospitals and surgeries across Scotland.

"NHS Dumfries and Galloway will now benefit from having even more dedicated and highly skilled staff in our hospitals and surgeries - ensuring people in our region receive the world-class care that they have come to expect from our NHS.

"Of course we understand there are particular challenges in all rural areas recruiting some specialisms, and the board is working hard on recruitment. However these figures show real progress is being made.

"As a cherished public service the SNP will continue to ensure our health service is properly funded and fit for the future."




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