Plaid in call for all-Wales cancer strategy as waiting times hit record numbers
Plaid Cymru call for early diagnostic centres and end to postcode lottery
The Welsh Government must publish an all-Wales cancer strategy to tackle the growing waiting lists for treatment and diagnosis, Plaid Cymru have said.
Plaid Cymru made the call today (4 February) on World Cancer Day.
Plaid Cymru’s spokesperson for health and social care, Rhun ap Iorwerth MS said that Wales urgently needed a long-term plan to tackle backlog and staff shortages as part of an “all-Wales cancer strategy to prioritise early diagnosis, recognise the thousands currently undiagnosed and ensure adequate care for those patients in later stages of cancer who will need more complex treatments”.
Plaid Cymru’s Mabon ap Gwynfor MS for Dwyfor Meirionydd, who has long campaigned for diagnostic centres across Wales to ensure cancer patients aren’t subject to a postcode lottery, said that ensuring early diagnosis and that gaps in the workforce should be a priority in any cancer strategy.
The issue is very close to Mr ap Gwynfor’s heart after his father, Guto, was diagnosed with cancer in 2019 and has been receiving treatment throughout the pandemic.
Mr ap Gwynfor said that even before the pandemic Wales had been experiencing significant gaps in the workforce that diagnose and treat cancer which made the importance of an all-Wales cancer strategy all the more important.
It has been two years since Wales had a Cancer Strategy – putting the country at odds with the World Health Organisation’s recommendations that every country should have one in place.
Around 20,000 people a year in Wales are diagnosed with cancer and an estimated 170,000 people are living with the disease in its various forms.
Plaid Cymru spokesperson for Health and Social Care Rhun ap Iorwerth MS added,
“The pandemic’s impact on cancer treatment and diagnosis has and continues to be devastating.
“The Welsh Government must urgently introduce a plan to tackle the backlog and staff shortages created by the pandemic as part of a wider all-Wales cancer strategy to prioritise early diagnosis, recognise the thousands currently undiagnosed and ensure adequate care for those patients in later stages of cancer who will need more complex treatments.
“Now is not the time to be without a cancer strategy. Wales has amongst the worst cancer outcomes in Europe, and this will only get worse if action isn’t taken.
“In the meantime, anyone who has any worry, any symptom, should please, please make an appointment with your GP.”
Plaid Cymru’s Mabon ap Gwynfor MS added,
“Early diagnosis is key to ending the worrying trend in cancer survival rates in Wales.
“Any cancer strategy must include long term plans to ensure early diagnosis the development of Rapid Diagnostic Centres is a welcomed development, but for us to get to grips with cancer in a meaningful way we need to plug the huge gaps in workforce.
“A priority in the strategy to treat and beat cancer must reflect how these rapid diagnostic centres are staffed, and how recruitment generally in cancer diagnosis and treatment is secured for the long term.
“Cancer doesn’t care about geography, but patients do. They deserve parity of service, wherever they live.
“Scotland and England have Cancer Strategies with a buy in from their respective Health or Commissioning Boards. This strategy gives them clear targets and ensures that they have a laser like focus. But Wales doesn’t have that comprehensive strategy, instead we have an incoherent mishmash of programmes and frameworks. If we are serious about getting to grips with Cancer then we need a Cancer strategy”.