Scotland politics

Miscarriage surgery wait 'an isolated case'

Shona Robison
Image caption Ms Robison said she had asked the chief medical officer to examine the issue

A woman who faced a five-week wait for surgery after a miscarriage was an isolated incident, the health secretary has insisted.

But Shona Robison said it was unacceptable for any woman to wait that long for surgery after pregnancy loss.

She was speaking after it emerged a woman was sent away from hospital in the Glasgow area with antibiotics after suffering a miscarriage.

Surgery to remove the fetal tissue was then scheduled for five weeks' later.

But the woman haemorrhaged while awaiting the dilation and curettage (D&C) procedure, resulting in an emergency admission to hospital.

A D&C is often performed after a first-trimester miscarriage.

The case was highlighted by the Sands stillbirth and neonatal death charity at a recent NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde (NHSGGC) annual review meeting.

'Shocking and heartbreaking'

Jean Anne Mitchell, a member of Sands who was a Labour candidate at the last general election, claimed during the meeting that five-week waiting times for D&C were now "normal across the board", and blamed staff shortages.

Labour health spokesman Anas Sarwar pressed Ms Robison on the "shocking and heartbreaking" case at Holyrood.

Ms Robison said a full investigation was already being carried out into the circumstances.

And she said the chief medical officer for Scotland, Catherine Calderwood, had been asked to look into the situation both in the Glasgow area and the rest of Scotland.

But Ms Robison stressed: "The initial indications are from Glasgow and Clyde that this is an isolated case, totally unacceptable and I am absolutely determined that that standard of health care is not something we would accept for anybody anywhere in Scotland.

"I want to make sure that women across Scotland get the highest level of of care, particularly in very, very sensitive circumstances like this."

'Upsetting time'

In a statement issued later, Dr Calderwood said miscarriage was a very distressing experience for women and their families, and it was extremely important that they were offered the right care and support.

She added: "I am sorry to read reports of women waiting longer than necessary for medical procedures and it's unacceptable for women to wait long periods at a very upsetting time.

"I have already spoken to NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde. The health board's current standard is that women experiencing a miscarriage who choose a surgical procedure are offered it within a two-week timeframe, and they have sought to assure me that that standard is met.

"The board is also trialling a new service using local anaesthetic in an outpatient setting within a seven-day timeframe. When that has been evaluated, the service will be expanded to ensure any increase in demand is met."

Dr Calderwood said she would be examining the processes of all health boards, the range of options that are offered to women and the timescale for women to have a medical or a surgical procedure.

She said: "If there are unacceptably long waits, health boards will be tasked with changing their processes to ensure that this does not happen."

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