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Scottish patients 'forced to go private or get treatment in England' for chronic pain

The Scottish government faced pressure to reimburse chronic pain patients today after it was revealed that many have been forced to turn to private treatment during the coronavirus pandemic. 

Scottish Labour said it is a scandal that those using chronic pain services have been forced to travel as far as England for treatment, pushing the government to begin support as soon as possible. 

Pain relief services for patients with chronic conditions were paused near the start of the coronavirus pandemic as part of efforts to prepare NHS Scotland for treating Covid-19 cases.

Many patients turned to private treatment during this time, travelling to England for the help they need during lockdown, the BBC revealed.

Labour MSP Monica Lennon said that the situation was “really unfair” and called for the Scottish government to cover the cost of treatment and travel for patients who have made the “very painful and difficult” journey.

She added: “What I want to see happen next is that the Scottish government make sure that patients in Scotland get treatment in Scotland.

“We cannot leave behind those living with chronic pain as we re-open NHS services.

“It is time for the Scottish government to get chronic pain services up and running again as soon as possible.”

Health Secretary Jeane Freeman said health boards can choose to do so on a case-by-case basis but it is normally agreed before treatment happens.

Ms Freeman also said that NHS Scotland is looking to restart pain relief services as soon as it is safe, having pledged the publication of a “recovery framework” for pain management services in the near future.

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