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Process to get cancer medicine 'not fit for purpose' say Welsh Conservatives

A report on the Welsh Government's cancer plan has been released Credit: PA

This cross-party report confirms what cancer patients and Welsh Conservatives have been saying for years: the process of accessing cancer medicines is unfair, not fit for purpose and must be overhauled.

The principles of the Welsh Government's Cancer Delivery Plan are widely supported by patients and healthcare professionals, but without proper funding and leadership, its aims will not be met.

More must be done to communicate public health messages to combat the causes of cancer as well as helping both the public and NHS workers identify the symptoms.

– Darren Millar AM, Shadow Health Minister

'Immediate priority must be achieving rapid cancer diagnosis' say NHS Wales

NHS Wales say their immediate priority must be achieving rapid diagnosis Credit: PA

The Cancer Delivery Plan, NHS Wales has made progress in terms of patient survival and experience. Since its introduction, the reduction in mortality is faster than any of the other UK nations. In addition, the 2013 Cancer Patient Experience Survey reported 89% of patients rated their care as excellent, or very good, with a further 8% rating their care as good.

But we also know there are areas which require more work and there needs to be greater consistency in services and how the Plan is applied across Wales. Our immediate priority must be achieving rapid diagnosis and access to effective treatment.

As the health service continues to face unprecedented financial challenges, we know that cancer services, like others, are struggling to meet growing demands. An ageing population and the availability of more treatments and medicines means increasing numbers of patients are suitable for more kinds of treatments.

To rise to these challenges, we must look at different ways of approaching care in the future. This includes working more prudently to make sure patients are accessing the treatments which are right for them, and reducing ineffective treatments.

– Dr Tracey Cooper, Chief Executive of Public Health Wales

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Key recommendations on cancer plan for Wales

There are 13 recommendations Credit: PA

The National Assembly for Wales's Health & Social Care Committee has issued 13 recommendations to help ensure the Welsh Government's Cancer Plan is delievered as planned.

The recommendations say:

  • That the Minister for Health and Social Services ensures that there is a body which has the remit and resources to drive the delivery of the Welsh Government's Cancer Delivery Plan at a national level, hold health boards to account on the delivery of their local plans and undertake strategic forward planning of cancer services.
  • That the Minister for Health and Social Services reminds health boards of the requirement in the Cancer Delivery Plan for them to publish their local cancer delivery plans and annual reports on their websites to enable the public to hold them to account, and asks health boards to make this information prominent and easy to locate.
  • That the Minister for Health and Social Services provides an update to the Committee after 12 months on the strategy for targeting cancer prevention campaigns at harder to reach groups and socioeconomically deprived areas, to include information on the intended timescales, financial implications and how the effectiveness of campaigns will be measured.
  • That the Minister for Health and Social Services provides an update to the Committee after 12 months on the steps that have been taken to ensure that all opportunities are explored and taken up to promote screening among harder to reach groups, and the impact of such promotion on screening uptake.
  • That the Minister for Health and Social Services works with the Wales Deanery and the General Medical Council to ensure that GPs' training and continuing professional development raises awareness of cancer symptoms, early diagnosis, and the tools and resources available to support GPs in their roles.
  • That the Minister for Health and Social Services requires health boards to take steps to ensure that GPs have clarity about the services available and the referral arrangements in their areas.
  • That the Minister for Health and Social Services makes a statement on cancer diagnosis, to include diagnostic treatments, the Minister's strategy to support diagnostics across Wales, and the impact and value for money resulting from the additional funding provided in 2014-15.
  • That to ensure that there is consistency and equity across Wales, the Minister for Health and Social Services establishes a national panel to consider and make decisions about Individual Patient Funding Requests.
  • That the Minister for Health and Social Services provides an update after 12 months to the Committee on the actions taken, including the guidance he has committed to provide, and progress made by health boards to ensure that the requirements in the Cancer Delivery Plan for all patients to be assigned a key worker and provided a written care plan are met by 2016.
  • That the Minister for Health and Social Services sets out the actions which will be taken, with associated timescales and financial implications, to address the aftercare needs of the increasing numbers of people living with cancer in the longer term. Such actions should take account of patients' medical and non-medical needs.
  • That the Minister for Health and Social Services sets out the actions which will be taken, with associated timescales and financial implications, to reduce inequities in access to end of life and palliative care, and provides the Committee with an update after 12 months on the impact of those actions.
  • That, as a matter of priority, the Minister for Health and Social Services considers the development or replacement of the Cancer Network Information System Cymru, and ensures that both clinical and research priorities are taken into account, including secondary episodes of care.
  • That the Minister for Health and Social Services sets out the actions which will be taken, with associated timescales, to ensure the development and service delivery of stratified medicine in Wales.

'Stronger national leadership' needed on cancer care plan says report

There are calls for 'stronger leadership' to ensure the Welsh Government's Cancer plan meets its potential Credit: PA

A report by the Health & Social Care Committee has called for "stronger national leadership" to ensure that the Welsh Government's plan to tackle cancer meets its full potential.

While the committee said some improvements have been made in researching and screening cancer, as well as end-of-life care more needs to be done.

Some of those diagnosed with cancer related illness told the Committee that their experiences did not always match the aspirations set out in the plan.

Our report makes recommendations to the Minister, which if accepted and implemented, we believe will assist in the achievement of the plan's aspirations

– Committee Chair, David Rees AM

Key facts that show extent of Wales's drinking problem

More lives are lost to alcohol in the south Wales Valleys than any other part of Wales Credit: PA

A new study has revealed the scale of the health difficulties caused by alcohol - and it makes daunting reading. The experts warn that even long term moderate drinking can increase the risk of health problems.

Some key points are:

  • Every week, our hospitals handle as many as a thousand alcohol related admissions
  • 17% of eleven to sixteen year olds drink at least once a week - causing particular concern
  • Alcohol leads to twenty nine deaths a week in Wales
  • More lives are lost to alcohol in the south Wales Valleys than any other part of Wales

Find out whether you're drinking too much by visiting the drink aware website.

Over half of Welsh people not confident performing CPR

CPR training is being rolled out to schools and workplaces. Credit: PA

New figures show that over 70 per cent of people in Wales would not be confident performing CPR if a family member was having a heart attack.

The latest figures from the British Heart Foundation show over nearly a third don't have the skills or knowledge to react to a heart attack.

That's despite 22,000 people dying every year in the UK following a cardiac arrest in their home.

22,000 people die every year in the UK because of cardiac arrest. Credit: PA

The British Heart Foundation is now launching a campaign which it says could save over 5,000 lives a year. As part of the campaign, young people and adults are being offered training in how to deliver CPR.

The training programme enables schools, workplaces and community groups to become self-sufficient in teaching the three steps that could save a life.

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Welsh Government: Minimum pricing would target 'heavy and most harmful drinkers'

The Welsh Government says there is growing evidence that the introduction of minimum pricing on alcohol would target those who are the heaviest and most harmful drinks.

It says it needs to focus on prevention to improve the nation's health.

The comments follow a report which shows 29 people die every week because of alcohol related issues.

We need to focus relentlessly on prevention to improve the nation's health and there is growing evidence that the introduction of minimum unit pricing would particularly target those who are the heaviest and most harmful drinkers.

We advise that alcohol should be consumed responsibly and within the Welsh Government's drinking guidelines of no more than two to three units a day for women and three to four units a day for men. It is also very important to take at least two days off from alcohol a week to give your liver and heart the rest they need.

– Welsh Government spokesperson

Report shows 29 people die every week in Wales as a result of alcohol

A new report from Public Health Wales shows Wales faces many challenges with alcohol-related issues.

29 people die every week in Wales because of alcohol-related issues. Credit: PA

Its 'Alcohol and Health in Wales' report shows Wales has the highest amount of people aged 11-16 drinking alcohol at least once a week.

Figures also show that 29 people die each week because of alcohol-related issues.

Other findings include;

  • Drinking most prevalent in deprived communities
  • Number of heavy drinkers over the age of 45 has increased
  • Over 1,000 alcohol-related admissions to welsh hospitals every week
  • 1 in 20 deaths are related to long term drinking problems

Public Health Wales is calling for minimum pricing on alcohol and for advertising to be regulated.

The amount of heavy drinks aged 45 and over has gone up. Credit: PA

While we are making progress, this new report shows much more is still to be done if we are to reduce the avoidable harms that alcohol causes to communities across Wales.

We need to help people make the right choices about their own drinking. Too many drinkers fail to recognise how even moderate drinking can increase their risks of developing diseases such as cancer.

The normalisation of drinking at a young age is also especially harmful and our problems with alcohol must be tackled early in life.

– Professor Mark Bellis, Public Health Wales

Keiran's grown eight inches in a year - and he's still growing

A 19-year-old from Bridgend has grown eight inches taller in just a year after suffering from a rare tumor in his brain. Keiran Halliday has had the tumor removed but the condition means he's still growing at a rapid rate. Alexandra Lodge went to meet him and his mum.

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