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Cancer care ‘a top priority’

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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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Covid-19 vaccination venues and timeline announced for everyone locally over 50

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EVERY person in JCVI priority groups 5 to 9 will be offered a COVID-19 vaccination by 18 April, Hywel Dda University Health Board has confirmed.

While the health board’s vaccination programme has the capacity to offer a vaccine to everyone in groups 5 to 9 by the original target date of 4 April, the delivery plan has had to be adjusted based on confirmed vaccine deliveries.

Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion, and Pembrokeshire residents in priority groups 5 to 9 can expect to receive their vaccine as follows:

  • Group 5, people aged 65 – 69 years – delivered by GP practices between 15 February and 12 March
  • Group 6, people aged 16 years to 64 years with underlying health conditions and unpaid carers – delivered by GP practices between 22 February and 4 April
  • Group 7, people aged 60 – 64 years – delivered by mass vaccination centres starting 8 March
  • Group 8, people aged 55 – 59 years – delivered by mass vaccination centres starting 22 March
  • Group 9, people aged 50 – 54 years – delivered by mass vaccination centres starting 5 April

The health board currently has mass vaccination centres located in Aberystwyth, Cardigan, Haverfordwest, Tenby, Carmarthen and Llanelli.

Group 6 is significantly the largest cohort to be vaccinated to date and we understand that many in this group will be anxious to receive a vaccine. Please do not contact your GP or the health board to ask about your appointment, you will be contacted directly when it is your turn and we thank you for your patience.

People in groups 7, 8 and 9 will receive a letter with an appointment date and time. Please arrive as close to your appointment time as possible. The letter will include a phone number to contact the health board should you need to rearrange or cancel your appointment but please make every effort to keep your allocated appointment time.

Steve Moore, Chief Executive of Hywel Dda UHB, said: “While  our programme has had to slow  due to supplies, we want to reassure everyone in groups 5 to 9 that our amazing teams of vaccinators and GP practices have the capability and flexibility to deliver our vaccine supplies as they arrive into the region.

“Vaccine supplies will start to increase again from mid-March, and we are confident that everyone living in our three counties in the top 9 priority groups will be offered a vaccine by mid-April.

“In Hywel Dda we have an older population compared to some other health boards and so over 50% of our adult population will have been offered a vaccine by milestone 2.

“To be able to say that as we approach the anniversary of the first national lockdown is nothing short of extraordinary.

“And again, I must say thank you to everyone living in our three counties who continue to come forward in substantial numbers for the vaccine. Uptake remains remarkably high and we hope to see this continue through groups 5 to 9 and into group 10.”

People are asked, wherever possible, to use their own private transport to attend an appointment. Lifts can be accepted from someone in their household or support bubble, but not from anyone else due to the risk of transmission of the virus.

The health board has put in place transport support for anyone who may have difficulty attending their vaccination appointment. If you have no other means of travel, please contact the health board on 0300 303 8322 and we will be happy to assist.

Everyone in priority groups 1 to 4 should have received an offer of a vaccination. If you have not been contacted, or have changed your mind, please contact your GP at the earliest opportunity. No one will be left behind.

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Nolton Haven: Man hospitalised after getting into difficulties in sea

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A MAN was taken to hospital after getting into difficulties in the sea off Nolton Haven on Friday.

Emergency services were alerted at 2.40pm on February 26 by a 999 call to the control centre.

The Little Haven RNLI lifeboat, Broad Haven Coastguard, an ambulance crew and a Coastguard rescue helicopter assisted police in the operation.

The male casualty was stabilised on the beach and shortly before 4.30pm, was then transported to Withybush Hospital.

A police spokesman told The Herald: “We were called to a male who had got into difficulties in the water at Nolton Haven shortly before 3pm.

“He was taken to hospital by ambulance.”

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Cyclist killed on A40 was serving police officer, force confirms

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A CYCLIST who died after a crash with a van on the A40 in Carmarthenshire was a serving police officer with Dyfed-Powys Police, the force has confirmed in a statement to Herald.Wales.

The driver of the van involved in the crash, which happened on Thursday (Feb 25) has been arrested on suspicion of causing death by dangerous driving, it was confirmed on Friday (Feb 26).

Police are investigating the fatal collision, which caused the road to be closed for 12 hours, and are asking for any witnesses to come forward by calling 101.

37-year-old Lynwen Thomas, who is a former student at Ysgol Bro Myrddin, Croes-y-Ceiliog, Carmarthen, was a sergeant and a very well-respected member of Dyfed-Powys Police.

A spokesperson for the police said in a statement: “Our thoughts are with her family, friends and colleagues, who have all been offered specialist support. We ask that family members are given the privacy they need at this difficult time.”

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