Treat the patient not just the symptoms says Committee


A five year battle for recognition and improved diagnosis of patients with thyroid conditions has today led to a call for a clear, single protocol for testing to be applied for the whole of Scotland.

First raised in a petition in 2013, petition PE1463, today’s report by the Scottish Parliament’s Public Petitions Committee also calls on the Scottish Government to do more to capture the experience of patients to ensure that the most appropriate treatment can be given to patients.

During the Committee’s consideration, the Committee heard moving testimony about the impact that the search for treatment had on some people’s lives, including the petitioner, Lorraine Cleaver.

Committee Convener, Johann Lamont MSP said:

“The experiences brought to light by this petition are simply unimaginable. The daily struggle against constant pain, depression and uncertainty is difficult enough, but for this to be compounded by not being believed by those in a position of trust is unacceptable.

“The majority of those affected by this illness are women. And it is sadly unsurprising to hear that the complaints and pleas of so many women have gone unheard. It is part of a wider issue of health problems affecting women not having been taken seriously.

“This has to stop. We have to listen to patients and patients must have confidence that they will be believed. That is why we have called for a national testing protocol as well as more research to ensure that patients are treated as individuals and not just symptoms on a page”

As well as the clear guidance, the Committee also called for professional bodies to work closely with patient support groups and individuals to promote greater awareness of the issue. Deputy Convener Angus MacDonald MSP said:

“Today’s report marks an important milestone after 5 years of consideration and we want to put on record our thanks to the petitioners raising such an important issue.

“This is clearly a complex issue and one which the Committee has rightly taken its time to explore and examine all sides and arguments put before us. What is clear is that whilst there is no on size fits all solution, there is the chance to listen to patient experience as well as introducing a clear, single protocol for the whole of Scotland.”

A copy of the Committee’s report can be found here.


Introduced in 2013, petition PE1463 called for action to ensure that GPs and endocrinologists were able to accurately diagnose thyroid and adrenal disorders and provide the most appropriate treatment.

Although drafted in broad terms, the petition focussed particularly on hypothyroidism and those patients in particular who continue to experience symptoms while undergoing the recommended standard treatment.

More information on the Committee’s consideration of the petition can be found here.

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