Debating a better way forward for cancer care

Welsh Conservatives will today call on the Health Minister to review his NHS cancer priorities and ‘dust off’ the Welsh Government’s Cancer Delivery Plan.


In a debate brought forward by the official opposition, the group will highlight missed waiting time targets, a disparity in access to treatment, survival rates, and the continued absence of a cancer co-ordinator.


The debate follows last week’s report by Macmillan Cancer Support, which warned half of the UK’s population will get cancer during their lifetime by 2020.


Last month NHS Wales’ Chief Executive published his ‘priorities’ for 2013/14. The document lacked any detail on the provision of cancer treatment. This, despite the Welsh Government’s failure to meet its waiting time target for urgent cancer patients for the last five years.


Patients in Wales are also five times less likely to routinely access some cancer drugs than patients elsewhere in the UK. Despite this independent research, successive Health Ministers have refused to invest in the problem and prevent an on-going postcode lottery.


Last summer, Welsh Conservatives called for a five million pounds Cancer Treatments Fund, which could:


•           Increase access to modern cancer drugs in Wales


•           Increase access to other treatments, such as CyberKnife radiotherapy


•           Assist in the further expansion of mobile cancer treatment centres



Shadow Minister for Health, Darren Millar AM, will lead Wednesday’s Assembly debate.


He said:


“Labour’s cancer delivery plan was announced with a fanfare last year and Carwyn Jones’ government should now dust it off, review it, and start delivering on its commitments.


“Macmillan’s recent startling predictions were an eye-opener for everyone – but hold particular concern in Wales – where we already lag behind on European cancer survival rates and have a higher incidence of cancer than other parts of the UK.


“It simply isn’t good enough that treatment times for urgent cancer cases in Wales have not been met since 2008, and that access to modern cancer drugs and other new treatments is worse here than elsewhere in Britain.


‘It is for these reasons that it is so disappointing that cancer does not feature in the Welsh Government’s published priorities for the NHS next year.


“That’s not acceptable and I hope today’s debate will go some way to putting cancer care back at the top of the agenda.”