Pre-eclampsia Testing

First Minister’s Question Time – in the Scottish Parliament am ar 23 Mai 2024.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Photo of Tess White Tess White Ceidwadwyr

To ask the First Minister what the Scottish Government’s response is to reports that no national health service board has implemented placental growth factor-based testing for pre-eclampsia, in light of it having been recommended in March 2023 by the Scottish Health Technologies Group. (S6F-03166)

Photo of John Swinney John Swinney Scottish National Party

The Scottish Government is committed to continuous improvement in maternity safety across Scotland to deliver the best and safest care for mothers and babies. We expect all NHS boards to ensure that the Scottish Health Technologies Group’s recommendations on placental growth factor-based testing are implemented effectively and consistently. NHS boards are currently in the initial phases of implementing PLGF testing, and we have written again to NHS boards to secure an update on their current position and to determine whether further support is necessary to progress implementation plans.

Photo of Tess White Tess White Ceidwadwyr

Women in Scotland are being denied a test, so I welcome what the First Minister has just said, because the provision of such testing could save their lives and the lives of their babies.

The test is already being used widely in NHS England, and it is clear that Scotland has been on the back foot with implementation, with health boards having indicated that funding is a major obstacle. What price can we put on mothers’ and babies’ lives? If the Scottish National Party Government is serious about women’s health, can the First Minister tell us when the necessary resources will be made available to all health boards for those life-saving tests?

Photo of John Swinney John Swinney Scottish National Party

This is a very important issue, and I want to reassure Tess White that the Cabinet Secretary for Health and Social Care is actively pursuing it with health boards around the country.

On financial support, the Government has provided a real-terms increase in resources for the health service around the country, but there is clearly significant demand and pressure on those resources. I cannot give Tess White an immediate answer on timescales, but I will make sure that the health secretary writes to her, once we have had feedback from health boards about their state of preparation, to ensure that her legitimate concerns are properly addressed in correspondence at a later date.

Photo of Monica Lennon Monica Lennon Llafur

Yesterday was world pre-eclampsia day. Women and babies in Scotland have died, so the First Minister’s words will not reassure anyone. Today, I have had written answers from the Minister for Public Health and Women’s Health, telling us about scoping inquiries and writing again to health boards because of the capacity and infrastructure challenges that they have raised.

That is not good enough—it is reactive. The Government is responding because people with lived experience are campaigning and demanding urgent action, including those who are aligned with Action on Pre-eclampsia, and because of the campaign by the Sunday Post , which was launched on Sunday. Again, the Government is on the back foot. The lives of women and babies are at risk and, sadly, some have died. Therefore, will the First Minister and other relevant ministers meet, as a matter of priority, people who have been directly impacted and learn from what has already been rolled out in Wales and England? Women in Scotland deserve the same.

Photo of John Swinney John Swinney Scottish National Party

I take seriously the point that Monica Lennon has made. I will be happy to meet the health secretary and the relevant campaigners to address the issue. Perhaps it might be appropriate if we had a meeting with Tess White and Monica Lennon on the issue.

We recognise the significance and the benefits of the testing arrangements. We must ensure that health boards are actively responding to that call. We will put in place measures to ensure that members of this Parliament are updated about that, and we will arrange that discussion.