A long-awaited review of breast cancer services at NHS Tayside will not be published due to a possible “conflict of interest” identified in the team carrying out the report.
The Royal College of Physicians London was invited to conduct the review following revelations patients were given lower than standard doses of a chemotherapy drug between December 2016 and April 2019.
An initial feedback report completed in late May was shared with NHS Tayside management and Scotland’s chief medical officer Dr Catherine Calderwood.
It is understood the full review, which will now not be published, would have been critical of the handling of the revelations by management at NHS Tayside.
Clinicians were given early feedback in anticipation of the completed review and are reportedly “furious” the document will not see the light of day.
A source said: “The clinicians are furious, NHS Tayside management are furious. It is unknown who has created the ‘conflict of interest’ to block the publication.
“The clinicians fully cooperated with the Royal College. Patients and their families are eager for the report.”
A spokeswoman for RCP London confirmed the initial feedback “focused on areas of concern to patient safety, so that these could be acted upon urgently if need be, but also included general feedback”.
She said: “While the RCP stands by all of this feedback, provided in June, it has since learned of a potential conflict of interest among the review team, which should have come to light at the start of the process. It is examining why that did not happen.
“Professor Donal O’Donoghue, RCP registrar, has written to NHS Tayside explaining that the RCP’s decision is based on the belief that its process for undertaking the review with true independence may have been too far compromised and potentially could not stand up to public scrutiny.”
Prof O’Donoghue said he was “extremely disappointed” by the situation and apologised for any any “concern or anxiety” it may cause.
RCP has offered to re-run the review with a new team immediately or return in a year to 18 months to look at how initial feedback has been acted upon.
Scottish Labour health spokeswoman Monica Lennon said an independent inquiry was “absolutely necessary” following the collapse of the RCP review.
“This is extremely serious and breast cancer patients and their families in Tayside need answers,” she said.
“An independent inquiry is absolutely necessary in order to restore trust and confidence in NHS Tayside and the Scottish Government.”
Professor Peter Stonebridge, Interim Medical Director for NHS Tayside, said: “We were disappointed to be informed that the RCP would not be able to provide us with a full final report due to organisational issues on their part.
“However, they did share their preliminary views and their immediate recommendations with us which were in line with the HIS report.
“NHS Tayside has already accepted and acted on the recommendations of the report by HIS and the preliminary views and immediate recommendations of the Royal College of Physicians Invited Service Review.”