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Dr Jonathan Richards, a GP from Merthyr, talks about some of the danger signs we should be looking for in our own drinking habits.
The Wales Cancer Alliance has welcomed the report on the progress of delivering the Welsh Government’s Cancer Delivery Plan. But the coalition of 11 cancer charities has said that more work needs to be done to collect and analyse data to inform better and more consistent delivery; more effective national planning; increased monitoring and more robust accountability.
There is a variation in local health board planning and delivery and coupled with a lack of national planning has hindered the implementation of the Cancer Delivery Plan, which has been identified as a priority.
The WCA believes that the ambitions set out in the Cancer Delivery Plan will not be achieved without robust national planning, monitoring, accountability, and all-Wales initiatives to ensure consistent and better outcomes for people affected by cancer.
We call on the Welsh Government to strengthen its approach to national planning and monitoring of progress. There needs to be greater collaboration and consistency across health boards and cancer teams to ensure patients receive better care.
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.
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.
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.
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
The Conservatives are accusing the Welsh Government of actively encouraging big council tax rises next year. The tax has been frozen by the Scottish and Westminster governments but annual increases are allowed in Wales, where tax levels have historically been lower. The UK minister for English local government, Eric Pickles, claims that what's happening in Wales is a warning to voters in England.
Labour haven't learnt their lesson. If anyone needs an example of why Labour can’t be trusted with the interests of British people, this is it. After presiding over one of the worst economic crises in living memory, Labour’s answer to everything is still more borrowing, more spending and higher taxes.
Welsh councils face an average cut of 3.4% in cash terms in their main source of income -the support grant from the Welsh Government. When he announced the cut, Public Services Minister Leighton Andrews refused to say by how much he expected the tax to rise. However, he told councils that the Welsh Government remains "flexible" about increases.
In setting council tax levels for 2015-16, I urge local authorities to think seriously about the funding challenges they face and to balance this with a consideration of the financial burden on households. We offer considerable flexibility to authorities in Wales which is not available to their counterparts in England, where restrictive freezes apply.
Ultimately, Welsh council tax rises are nothing to do with the Westminster Government but it's inevitable that Conservative Ministers preparing to fight a General Election will make much of this issue as they have of comparisons between the Welsh and English health services.
Arsene Wenger has said that Aaron Ramsey is expected back for the Champions League tie away to Anderlecht in Brussels.
The Welsh player had missed the two recent international European qualifiers due to injury.
Students from Cardiff have been taking a look around ITV Wales HQ. It's all part of the CDN Open Newsroom Day, which aims to give budding journalists and broadcast engineers a chance to find out more about the industry.