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Calls for more people to get cycling and walking

Only six per cent of adults use a bike, according to new figures. Credit: Marius Becker/PA

Only six per cent of adults use a bike as a means of transport, according to figures released today by the Welsh Government.

The figures show that a third of adults regularly don't walk and there are calls for more to be done to promote walking and cycling as safe and healthy alternatives to cars, particularly for short journeys.

A consultation for views on the new Active Travel action plan closed earlier this month. Under the plan, the Welsh Government hopes that 10 per cent of everyday journeys taken in Wales will be by bike by 2020.

We know that walking helps individuals to get and stay healthy as well as reducing congestion on our road system, which is why it's alarming that a third of adults don't regularly walk.

The Welsh Labour Government must act to find out why such large numbers don't walk regularly and address any concerns they may have, to encourage Wales to become a more active and healthy population.

– Eluned Parrott, Welsh Liberal Democrat shadow transport minister

The Welsh Government says it is introducing the Active Travel Act because not enough people are cycling and walking.

The act will place a requirement on local authorities in Wales to systematically plan for walking and cycling, based around their citizens' needs, and to make year-on-year improvements. The Welsh Government and local authorities will also be required to promote walking and cycling.

– Welsh Government spokesperson


Ambulance figures: 'Ongoing improvement' needed

The Health Minister "expects to see ongoing improvement" in ambulance response times, the Welsh Government said today.

We welcome the improvement the Welsh Ambulance Service has made, with 58.3% of emergency responses to the most immediate life-threatening calls arriving at the scene in eight minutes, up from 53% in June.

There has also been an increase in demand over the previous month, with a 7% rise in the number of emergency calls with more than 38,000 for July.

However, the service needs to continue to build on this improvement in response times. The Health Minister expects to see ongoing improvement, with targets being achieved month on month.

The ambulance fleet continues to be upgraded with Welsh Government investment, with a further £4m announced today and additional funding for the recruitment of more than 100 frontline staff. It is now for the Welsh Ambulance Service to improve its performance.

– Welsh Government spokesperson

'Improved service' vow as ambulance targets missed

The Welsh Ambulance Service says funding for new ambulances will help continue to improve service quality and patient care.

It comes as figures released today reveal Welsh ambulances have again missed their target response times.

For emergency responses to immediately life-threatening ambulance calls, 58.3% arrived at the scene within eight minutes – up from 53.0% in June but below the target of 65%.

Not only will the new vehicles improve the comfort and safety of our patients but also the working conditions for our staff.

Regularly replacing ageing vehicles ensures our fleet remains modern, reliable and fit-for-purpose.

The investment will allow us to continue to improve the quality of our services for the people of Wales and enhance patient care.

– Heather Ransom, Head of Resource for the Welsh Ambulance Service

Welsh ambulances get £4 million upgrade

The Welsh Ambulance Service is to get over 40 new vehicles as part of a major upgrade, the Welsh Government has announced.

Welsh Ambulance

The service will receive £4 million to buy 41 new fuel-efficient vehicles, including emergency ambulances and specialist rapid response vehicles.

There are currently 736 vehicles covering more than 8,000 square miles across Wales.

The Government claims the new ambulances will contain the latest equipment to ensure patients are treated in the best clinical environments possible.

Latest figures reveal the demands placed on the ambulance service with 35,570 emergency calls during June 2014.

They also show that immediately life-threatening incidents, which needed an emergency ambulance response, have increased by 30% over the last five years.

The demands placed on the ambulance service in Wales every day of the year are significant.

This is why we are continuing to invest in the ambulance fleet to make sure modern, reliable vehicles are available to respond to sick and injured patients.

This new funding will help provide high-quality clinical services, improve the comfort and care to patients and offer a much better working environment for ambulance service staff.

– Professor Mark Drakeford, Health Minister


Drug issue 'significant' for patients, says charity

Pancreatic cancer is the sixth most common type of cancer in the UK and every year 500 people in Wales die from the disease.

Alex Ford, chief executive of the charity Pancreatic Cancer UK told ITV News that although it is positive that the All Wales Medical Strategy Group has indicated that Abraxane will be available to some patients, it is not enough.

For the group of patients that they are saying the drug will be available to that's fantastic, but there is another group of patients who are fit enough to have that drug and we feel that they should get that option as well.

There are very very few drugs available to patients and this drug, although it only extends life by two to three months, that for a pancreatic cancer patient is very very significant.

– Alex Ford, Pancreatic Cancer UK

Cancer patients could miss out on life-extending drug

Man taking tablet
The New Medicines Group has issued a preliminary recommendation for the drug to be used for a restricted group of patients with metastatic pancreatic cancer. Credit: Stephen Kelly/PA

Pancreatic cancer patients in Wales could miss out on life-extending drugs which are available over the border in England. Abraxane is currently available to all patients in England through the Cancer Drugs Fund. The All Wales Medicines Strategy Group (AWMSG) is set to review the drug at a meeting with the Welsh Government next week.

The New Medicines Group, which is part of the AWMSG, has issued a preliminary recommendation for the drug to be used for a restricted group of patients with metastatic pancreatic cancer.

There has been a need for improving pancreatic cancer outcomes considering the poor prognosis of the disease and the lack of tangible developments for over a decade.

Following the recent international phase III randomised trial showing improvement in overall survival with the use of nab-paclitaxel combined with gemcitabine in patients with metastatic pancreatic cancer, it is encouraging that this is acknowledged by the All-Wales Medicines Strategy Group, which has granted access for some patients to have this drug.

However, there may still be a significant group of patients who will not be able to receive it.

– Dr Kein Yim, Consultant Oncologist, Velindre Hospital

A spokesperson for AWMSG says that no decision over the drug's availability has been made yet, but it is expected to be discussed at a meeting on 3rd September.

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