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Health

Proton therapy centre officially opened

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HEALTH Minister Vaughan Gething has set out his vision for cutting edge precision medicine to improve health and deliver a sustainable future for NHS Wales.

During, a visit to the Rutherford Cancer Centre in Newport, Mr Gething announced new strategies to transform pathology and precision therapeutics in Wales.

He said: “To address future challenges from the increasing burden of disease we must focus more on prevention, early detection and personalised targeted treatments. Precision medicine will increasingly support a more personalised approach to health and care.

“In Wales, we are already making progress in the field of precision medicine and I am confident that we can be a global player in the race to harness its potential. NHS Wales is on the cusp of realising the significant benefits that can be delivered by advances in precision medicine for patients by offering the right test or treatment at the right time.

“Our long term plan ‘A Healthier Wales’ recognises the importance of moving towards earlier detection and intervention to prevent illness and prolong independence.”

One of the first patients in the UK to receive high-energy proton beam therapy has today praised UK oncologists for embracing proton beam therapy and the transformative effects it has had on his treatment.

Ryan Scott, 23, from Cardigan in Wales, underwent treatment for a brain tumour (grade 1 craniopharyngioma) at the Rutherford Cancer Centre South Wales in Newport as part of NHS Wales’ proton beam therapy treatment pathway for adults.

Ryan Scott said: “I was very pleased when my consultant recommended proton beam therapy and told me that it was available close to home in South Wales. I was due to be treated with proton beam therapy over the course of eight weeks in the United States, a disruption I was not looking forward to. Happily, however, the agreement between NHS Wales and the Rutherford Cancer Centres was struck just in time for me to be treated a short drive from home.

“The process of undergoing proton beam therapy was much better than anticipated. There have been hardly any side effects and being able to sleep in my bed after a day’s treatment is a real plus.”

Mr Gething explained the Welsh Government had a clear vision for harnessing technology to deliver precision medicine in diagnostics and therapy that will ensure a sustainable future for NHS Wales.

“The Rutherford Cancer Centre in Newport, which was the first facility in the UK to offer proton beam therapy for cancer patients, is an excellent example of the development of new cancer therapies, here in Wales. It’s a perfect illustration of how we are working collaboratively to deliver technological innovations to improve treatment,” he said.

“Today I have published our Statement of Intent for Advanced Therapeutic Medicinal Products, which sets out how we will deliver precision therapeutics, like new cell therapies, in Wales.

“Alongside this, I have published a Statement of Intent to transform pathology services. All this builds on our recent investment in diagnostic services such as the new Imaging Academy for Wales.

“In this financial year, I am pleased to provide additional funding of £2.3m to support the delivery of new genetic tests together with a further £2m to support national plans for transforming diagnostic, health science and advanced therapeutic medical services in NHS Wales.”

Andrew Goodall, chief executive of NHS Wales, also attended today’s official opening.

The centre is part of a nationwide network that provides state-of-the-art cancer services including imaging, chemotherapy, immunotherapy, radiotherapy and high energy proton beam therapy.

The Newport centre was recently approved by the Welsh Health Specialised Services Committee (WHSSC) to provide high energy proton beam therapy to adult patients referred from the NHS in Wales, the centre also treated the first patient in the UK with proton beam therapy in April last year.

Mike Moran, chief executive of Proton Partners International which operates the Rutherford Cancer Centres, said: “It is gratifying to see UK oncologists becoming increasingly aware of proton therapy and embracing the treatment. Our collaborative partnership with the NHS in Wales means that adult patients have an option to be treated closer to home.”

“I am delighted by the support we have received from the Health Minister, the Welsh Government, the Wales Life Sciences Investment Fund and the NHS in Wales which has meant that Wales has been the pioneer in proton beam therapy in the UK. Patient demand is increasing and it is encouraging that the UK is beginning to catch up with Europe in the provision of this therapy.”

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Health

Third day for hospital operation cancellations for ‘patient safety’

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HYWEL DDA University Health Board has confirmed that, in the interest of patient safety, planned inpatient operations scheduled for today (Wednesday 8 January 2020) have been postponed at Bronglais, Glangwili, Prince Philip and Withybush hospitals. Emergency surgery, day case procedures and outpatient appointments are continuing as normal.
These actions are in line with our escalation procedures to help manage patient flow and maintain patient safety during periods of peak pressure.
We have contacted patients affected directly so please attend as planned if you do not hear from us. Otherwise, please do not contact our appointments or outpatient teams unless absolutely necessary as they are very busy at this time.
Whilst the situation remains challenging, we are currently assessing our operating plans for the days ahead and, as per normal planning arrangements, these will be reviewed on a daily basis.
We will issue an updated statement when a large proportion of planned operations resume.
We apologise for an inconvenience this may cause patients who have had their operations postponed or who have had to wait longer than normal for their procedure.

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Health

Operations at all west Wales hospitals, including Withybush cancelled again today

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THE HEALTH BOARD has confirmed that, in the interest of patient safety, routine planned operations remain cancelled today (Tuesday 7 January 2020) at Bronglais, Glangwili, Prince Philip and Withybush hospitals.

Operations were also cancelled yesterday for the same reason.

The exception to this is emergency surgery and urgent cases wherever possible, as well as most day surgery, with the exception of Bronglais Hospital. All outpatient appointments are continuing as normal.

A spokesman said: “We are contacting patients affected directly so please attend as planned if you do not hear from us. Otherwise, please do not contact our appointments or outpatient teams unless absolutely necessary as they are very busy at this time.

“This situation remains challenging with the Health Board operating in line with our escalation procedures to help manage patient flow and maintain patient safety. This includes commissioning additional areas to accommodate patients who require overnight care and support from senior clinicians, managers and other staff not initially rostered to work over the weekend to support the review and care of patients.

“In collaboration with our Local Authority partners, we continue to implement our broader winter plan which is designed to help reduce demand for hospital admission and prioritise patients for care within their home environment over the wider winter period. Over the next few weeks, a number of staff taking on new and different roles will be coming into post to support patients to receive the most appropriate care for their needs in the most appropriate setting. These are resourced through the winter planning monies supported by Welsh Government, in addition to the money we invested ourselves as a Health Board.”

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Health

Withybush General Hospital cancels all operations citing patient safety

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WITHYBUSH HOSPITAL has taken the unusual step of cancelling all inpatient operations in the interest of patient safety.
Hywel Dda University Health Board said they have decided to cancel inpatient operation at Bronglais, Prince Philip, Glangwili and Withybush today (Jan 6).
The health board has asked people do not attend an emergency department or GP practice if you have symptoms of infectious illness such as diarrhoea, vomiting, fever or symptoms of flu. Flu and norovirus are circulating and for the majority of people, these can be treated safely at home.
However, the vulnerable – very young, frail elderly, living with long term or chronic conditions – or those with symptoms worsening should seek medical advice.
In a statement issued by the Health Board to The Pembrokeshire Herald, a spokesperson said: “It has been an extraordinary weekend for our health service, with critical pressures being felt across all of our hospital A&E departments, GPs and our community services.
“In the interest of patient safety, Hywel Dda University Health Board has made the decision to cancel inpatient operations at Bronglais, Glangwili, Prince Philip and Withybush hospitals today.
“We are contacting patients affected directly so please attend as planned if you do not hear from us. Otherwise, please do not contact our appointments or outpatient teams unless absolutely necessary as they are very busy at this time.
“If you are unwell, please be aware that you may experience long waits for a GP appointment and at our A&E or MIU units at this time, for which we wholeheartedly apologise. If there are other services you can use, such as community pharmacies, please do so.”
Dr Philip Kloer, Medical Director at Hywel Dda UHB, said: “First I’d like to thank all my NHS colleagues across our hospitals, primary care and in the community for their commitment to our patients at this highly pressurised time.
“This weekend saw our hospitals at a level of escalation not seen before and it is in the interest of patient safety that we have postponed planned operations today. I understand this may be frustrating for those who have waited for their operation and I apologise for this.
“In response to the pressures being experienced today, we are redeploying staff to areas where additional support is needed, including contacting staff currently on leave. We are also working with our colleagues in the local authority and the families of those well enough to be discharged to ensure our medically well can go home or to an appropriate care setting as soon as possible.”

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