New national initiative to improve care of pancreatic and hepatocellular cancer patients across Scotland

Patient and carer voices are being listened to, following years of campaigning to improve the care pathways for those affected by pancreatic and primary liver cancer.

NHS Scotland has launched a new initiative with an innovative “Virtual Cancer Care Team” to speed up diagnosis and treatment for two of the deadliest forms of cancer.

The Scotland-wide pilot project included in the cancer action plan for Scotland, will help patients with suspected pancreatic cancer and people at risk of the most common form of liver cancer – hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC).

Pancreatic Cancer has the lowest five-year survival rate among the 22 most common forms of the disease and HCC has high mortality rates with increasing incidence across Scotland over the past decade.

Scottish campaigner Lynda Murray whose quest for change in memory of her father has been referred to as “Lynda’s asks” in the Scottish Parliament has worked tenaciously for years to bring politicians and clinicians together to improve the care and experiences for both patients and families.

Lynda Murray & Ross Carter
Lynda Murray & Ross Carter

“Pancreatic and liver cancer is different to other cancers – time is of the essence and everyone deserves a fair chance. This project shows the power behind patient and carer voices who have been pivotal throughout its development and will continue to be involved. People are listening and this is a real opportunity for Scotland to be the pinnacle for collaborative change”.

Lynda Murray

The new initiative is spearheaded by The Scottish HepatoPancreatoBiliary Network (SHPBN) and is funded by the Scottish Government, running until 2024.

Mr Ross Carter, a recently retired Consultant Surgeon, previously of NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde is Clinical lead for the pancreatic cancer strand of the project and has been supporting pancreatic cancer patients for many years.

Ms Anya Adair is a Consultant Surgeon within NHS Lothian and Clinical Lead for the pilot project which sits within NHS National Services Scotland (NSS), as part of the Scottish Cancer Network.

Anya Adair
Anya Adair

“The management of pancreatic and HCC can be complex and too often patients and their families are not provided with adequate information. This project aims to reduce delays in the care of patients and ensure support is provided”.

Ms Anya Adair

A pathway improvement project has been created with a new National Virtual Cancer Care Team at the heart of this innovative approach.

This team will triage patients who have been referred by local health care teams for suspicion of HCC or pancreatic cancer. The teams then work together to ensure earlier diagnostic and staging investigations take place, then make rapid referrals to regional multi-disciplinary teams (MDTs). This allows clinicians to swiftly begin appropriate treatment, reduces delays in care, and provides better support for patients and their families”.

“At last, an initiative focused on the support needs of people affected by pancreatic cancer. Patients and carers are considered throughout the development of this project.

We warmly welcome the investment in additional resource of the Cancer Care Team, to help improve experiences and outcomes.

Special thanks to everyone involved with this innovative project and in particular, Scottish campaigner Lynda Murray, whose tenacious engagement with politicians and clinicians over a number of years has been pivotal in strengthening collaborative support for change.

Swifter referral pathways and helping people access support for early holistic care will make a big difference for patients & carers”.

Fiona Brown - Scottish Development Manager Pancreatic Cancer Action
Lynda Murray & Fiona Brown
Lynda Murray & Fiona Brown

For further information or enquiries in relation to this project, please contact