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Cancer care ‘a top priority’



Improvements expected: Deputy Health Minister, Vaughan Gething

Improvements expected: Deputy Health Minister, Vaughan Gething

MORE PEOPLE are surviving cancer, even though more people in Wales are being diagnosed with the disease, a new report on cancer care published on Wednesday (Jan 14) by the Welsh Government reveals. The third all-Wales annual report for cancer sets out the progress made against the Welsh Government’s Together for Health – Cancer Delivery Plan over the last 12 months and identifies areas for future improvement. The number of people diagnosed with cancer is increasing largely as a result of Wales’ ageing population. Between 1995 and 2011 there were, on average, around 16,400 new cases of cancer every year.

But by 2012, more than 18,000 people were diagnosed with cancer in Wales. The report shows there has been a 25 percent reduction in mortality from cancer between 1995 and 2012 in Wales among people under 75. It also shows that since 1995, there has been a 17.5 percent improvement in the number of people still alive a year after diagnosis, with a 20.1 percent improvement in the number of those still alive five years after diagnosis.

The report acknowledges the Welsh NHS’ performance against the 62-day cancer waiting time target for people newly diagnosed with cancer remains an area for improvement and sets out areas for action for health boards to deliver improvements in waiting times. Deputy Health Minister Vaughan Gething said: “Caring for people with cancer is a top priority for NHS Wales.

Over the coming years, around one in three people will be diagnosed with cancer before age 75 and around four in 10 at some stage during their lifetime. Cancer is a common diagnosis and the incidence is increasing. “Our aim is for the Welsh NHS to provide the highest standard of care for everyone with cancer. There has been considerable progress in cancer care in Wales over the past 12 months. “This report clearly shows that while there are more people are being diagnosed with cancer in Wales each year, death rates are falling.

New and more effective treatments mean that many more people can now expect to live longer after their cancer treatment. “However, the report also sets out the challenges the Welsh NHS faces. We do expect to see improvements over the coming year in the percentage of patients, newly diagnosed with cancer who are treated within 62 days.” Dr Andrew Goodall, chief executive of NHS Wales said: “The Welsh NHS has performed well over the past 12 months and seen progress in many of our performance measures.

This is a tribute to all those involved in the planning and delivery of cancer services, including staff in the NHS and those in other parts of the public sectors. “We must also acknowledge the invaluable work of the community and voluntary sector. We have now established firm foundations for further positive development. “We will continue to track our progress in future years to ensure that we are in a sustainable position to achieve our vision by 2016.”

Macmillan Cancer Support General Manager for Wales Susan Morris said: “Two years following the launch of the Cancer Delivery Plan for Wales there is still some way to go to achieve all of its commitments and ambitions. “It is now imperative that the Welsh Government undertakes a follow up Patient Experience Survey during 2015 to measure from a patients perspective whether progress is being been made. “The Wales Cancer Patient Experience Survey showed that a third of cancer patients (34 per cent) did not have a key worker and only 22 percent were given a written care plan. “It is essential that there is national leadership to oversee the implementation of the Cancer Delivery Plan and that there is better national planning and more consistent and better outcomes for people affected by cancer.

“The Minister for Health is pivotal to ensuring that cancer delivery is joined up to ensure first class cancer services in Wales, which is imperative to secure the best possible outcomes for people affected by cancer.” Clinical lead for cancer Dr Gareth Collier said: “We are grateful to Macmillan Cancer Support for commissioning the Patient Experience Survey as this provides us with a valuable insight from patients receiving care.

“We try to ensure that the patient is at the heart of everything we do at Hywel Dda University Health Board and ensuring they receive the best outcomes and a positive experience is extremely important. We have systems in place to assure ourselves that we are providing for patient’s individual needs and to learn from incidences where we fail to achieve the standards we set for ourselves.

“We are pleased that the report acknowledges high levels of satisfaction with NHS cancer care in Wales and we are looking closely at recommendations for further improvement. We are continuing to work with the National Cancer Networks, including MacMillan and our nurse specialists, to further improve our nurse specialist capacity.

“Taking lessons from the report, we are planning local patient satisfaction surveys and developing patient support groups. We also work very closely with the Community Health Council and patient representatives and an example of this in action is the involvement of the cancer charitable organisations in the planning and delivery of a Chemotherapy Day Unit in Withybush Hospital – a project we have made a clear public commitment to.”

The plans for the chemotherapy unit at Withybush, reveal that the Board is considering ambitious plans to reconfigure the hospital’s top floor to accommodate the new unit, including taking over the existing space at Ward Nine and converting Ward 10 to the day unit, serviced by the existing dedicated lift.

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Simon Hart MP says that First Minister is ‘reckless’ to say that the UK is ‘as it is, over’



THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR WALES, Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire MP Simon Hart, said that the First Minister for Wales, Mark Drakeford is wrong to suggest that the United Kingdom has had its day in its current form.

The First Minister’s exact words were “the UK as it is; is over”.

Mr Drakeford’s has said a new union should be created to reflect a “voluntary association of four nations”.

In his conference speech, the Welsh Labour leader called for “home rule for Wales in a successful United Kingdom”.

In a strong rebuke of Mark Drakeford’s comments Simon Hart MP said on the BBC’s politics Wales programme on Sunday (Mar 7) that his suggestion was “reckless” and “an overt act of flirtation with Plaid Cymru.”

Mr Hart added: “I think he realises if he wants to remain first minister he has to do a deal with Plaid, it’s the only option on the table. He hasn’t denied that, I’ve heard.

“In order to do that he has to start making noises about the union that has to appeal to his Plaid Cymru colleagues. I think it’s quite a reckless thing.”

Mr Hart explained that the UK “benefits” Wales and that the UK-wide procurement of Covid-19 vaccines proves this. He added: “It demonstrates just one example that the UK is a positive influence but it doesn’t mean that some of the other arguments are not valid”.

Plaid Cymru wants to hold a referendum on Welsh independence if it wins May’s Senedd election, but the power to do so lies at Westminster.

There has been a growing interest in more independence for Wales in the last few years, with a huge surge in membership of the non-political Yes Cymru group since the start of the pandemic.

Plaid leader Adam Price, speaking on the same programme, said: “We sincerely believe that independence is ultimately the only sustainable way whereby Wales can achieve its incredible potential as a nation that isn’t being delivered at the moment and whereby we can achieve social and economic justice for everyone that lives in Wales.”

Giving evidence to the Welsh Affairs Select Committee on Thursday, which The Herald was invited attended via a Zoom, Mr Drakeford explained said his idea of home-rule meant “the powers we have, and the devolution settlement we develop, would be guaranteed and would not be interfered with in the way we have seen so vividly in recent months”.

Mr Drakeford said: “I do think the effect of the pandemic and last 12 months has been to polarise opinion in Wales about how Wales should be governed.

“There are some people who take a lesson that we would be better off handing Wales back to Whitehall, there are some Conservative candidates standing in the Senedd elections who apparently take that view.

“It has undoubtedly strengthened interest in those people who believe Wales should be taken out of the United Kingdom altogether.”

The company which runs The Pembrokeshire Herald, Herald News UK, has recently launched a national news website for Wales which is sympathetic to Welsh independence.

This is something which could not have happened without a shift in feeling by many in Wales that as a nation it should have more autonomy.

Speaking on ITN’s News at Ten on Thursday (Mar 4), Herald.Wales South and West Wales Editor, Tom Sinclair said: “From our test marketing we can see that there certainly is a huge appetite for news that is about Wales, made in Wales, and owned by a company which is actually Welsh.”

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Delight as foundation phase learners return to class



PEMBROKESHIRE Headteachers have reported very positive returns to school for Foundation Phase Learners.

All Foundation Phase Learners returned to schools on Monday, March 1st and attendance has been reported at almost 90% since.

The Council’s Director for Education, Steven Richards-Downes, said: “A wide range of council services have worked together to ensure that Foundation Phase pupils have been able to return
safely to school.

“I am particularly grateful to all school staff and families for ensure that learning is now available for our youngest learners face to face.”

Headteachers remarked how schools have filled with smiles and laughter following the safe and phased return of Foundation Phase learners.

Cora O’Brien, Headteacher at Waldo Williams School in Haverfordwest emphasised how quickly learners have settled back in to a routine.

“It has been an absolute joy to hear their laughter in the playground and to observe their love of learning face to face once again. I thank everybody in the Waldo Williams School
community for working so hard to ensure that the transition went smoothly.”

Vicky Hart-Griffiths, Headteacher of Ysgol Hafan y Mor in Tenby, said: “It has been wonderful to welcome all our Foundation Phase learners back to school. They are thriving, being amongst
friends and back to a school routine.  

“All the pupils have spoken about how happy they are to have returned and it’s an absolute pleasure to welcome them back and we can’t wait until we have all our pupils back in school.

“The school feels alive again and there’s a positive buzz and laughter once again echoing throughout the school.”

Gareth Lewis, Headteacher at Broad Haven CP School said children had returned “with real enthusiasm, and have been very keen to meet up with their friends.”

Mr Lewis added: “Our parents have been very supportive and positive about the return, and those with older children are very much looking forward to a wider return to schooling.”

Mr Richards-Downes said plans were now turning to more learners returning to schools in the near future.

“We are looking to the next phases of the re-opening of schools on the 15th of March as long as the government guidelines allow.”

Further details will be released in due course.

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Pembrokeshire County Council: This week’s Leader’s coronavirus update



PEMBROKESHIRE COUNTY COUNCIL Leader, Councillor David Simpson, has provided a further coronavirus update for Friday, 5th March as follows:

‘Welcome everyone to my weekly update.

“It is with rather a heavy heart that I tell you that it’s almost 12 months since my first statement on the coronavirus pandemic.

“On 9th March 2020, I addressed our Cabinet meeting with the following words:

“Further to the news yesterday that two people in Pembrokeshire had tested as positive for the Covid 19 virus, I am sure you will join me in wishing them both a speedy and full recovery.

“I can reassure you that our services will continue as usual, and all our employees can continue to attend to their work, appointments, schools and services as they normally would.

“We should all help protect ourselves and our communities by following Public Health Wales advice, particularly around washing hands and using a tissue for symptoms associated with cold and flu and then safely disposing of it.

“I am grateful to the co-operation and hard work of all of our staff and we will provide further updates and information when we have them.

“In the meantime I can confirm that detailed planning arrangements, both internally, with partner agencies and through the Dyfed Powys Local Resilience Forum, are well underway to ensure that the Council and Pembrokeshire are as well placed as possible for whatever challenges we may face. Thank you.”

“I am sure you will join me while I take a moment now to remember all those people in Pembrokeshire and further afield, who, very sadly, passed away since I made that announcement.

“I continue to be incredibly grateful, as I’m sure you are, to everyone who is helping to beat this pandemic, working so very hard now for over a year.

“We are fortunate now to be in a position where the vaccine programme is protecting older members of our community and starting to roll out among one of the biggest groups – the over 65s and those with underlying health conditions.

“This time next week (12th March) the Welsh Government will have notified us of their plans for the next three weeks.

“In the meantime, we remain in Alert Level 4 and the stay at home message continues to be more important than ever as we reach the threshold of better times.

“I wish you all a good weekend and thank you once again to the vast majority of wonderful Pembrokeshire residents who are doing the right thing and waiting patiently at home for restrictions to lift.

“We do really appreciate your efforts and determination to help bring this pandemic to an end.”


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