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‘Very stoical’ Welsh population who ‘don’t bother the doctor’ leading to poorer cancer survival rates says First Minister

26 Apr 2022 3 minute read
Mark Drakeford speaking in the Senedd

A “very stoical” part of the Welsh population who “don’t want to bother the doctor” is one reason why cancer survival rates are not as high as hoped for in Wales, the First Minister has said.

Mark Drakeford said that the country’s industrial heritage and “late presentation” were among the reasons why cancer rates were lower when quizzed by Plaid Cymru leader Adam Price in the Senedd.

Earlier this month a study in The Lancet showed that over 37% of cancers in Wales were diagnosed as a result of admission to emergency departments.

“We have some very stoical parts of the Welsh population who don’t want to bother the doctor and who live with things that they think are just chronic conditions that are part, for example, of the process of getting older,” Mark Drakeford said in the Senedd.

“The thrust of the system in Wales is to try to persuade people to present early and then to make sure that we equip our GP population to be able to identify those very early signs—not easy to do.”

‘Missed targets’

Adam Price had earlier renewed his party’s calls for a new, comprehensive cancer strategy for Wales, with a “new, urgent focus on early diagnosis and detection.”

“All the cancer charities in Wales are telling us that we need a new urgent focus on early diagnosis and detection. But they say that this needs to be put at the heart of a new, comprehensive cancer strategy for Wales, in line with the recommendations of the World Health Organisation,” he said.

“Welsh Government have previously argued that the various existing documents – including today’s planned care statement which includes a key cancer target – amount to a strategy.

“But missed targets – even before the pandemic – the fact that the cancer mortality gap within Wales between deprived and affluent areas is worse now than it was twenty years ago, and the fact that a recent Senedd Committee report testified that people with cancer in Wales are being forced to go private, suggests that urgent review is needed.

“Even if you can maintain – against everything every cancer charity in Wales is saying – that we do have a cancer plan, that strategy is failing. We need urgent action if we are to avoid, in the future, thousands of preventable and premature deaths amongst cancer patients in Wales.”

‘Difficult’

Mark Drakeford said that one-year survival rates and five-year survival rates from cancer in Wales had improved consistently in recent years.

“They may still not be where other countries are able to achieve things through their health system, but the system in Wales has been gaining ground in survival rates over a number of years,” he said.

“There are many reasons why survival rates are not where we would wish them to be in Wales. That includes our industrial heritage and its impact on the health of people, it includes, particularly, late presentation.

“It is very difficult to obtain the survival rates that we would like to see when so many cancers in Wales only become apparent when they have already developed to a point where the techniques of intervention that would be available at early stages have already been passed by.”


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Gareth Parry
Gareth Parry
5 months ago

We have some very stoical parts of the Welsh population who don’t want to bother the doctor and who live with things that they think are just chronic conditions that are part, for example, of the process of getting older” is lazy and cheap excuse making on the part of the First Minister and Welsh Labour woeful record of managing the NHS. the 2 decades of following Westminster and replicating draconian ‘10’ minute GP appointments, the frantic scramble to ring the surgeries at 8am, and the seemingly permanent lack of cohesion between primary care and secondary care is the cause… Read more »

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
5 months ago
Reply to  Gareth Parry

That comment surprised me…for a minute…funny how spring turns to autumn so quickly in politics….

Leigh Richards
Leigh Richards
5 months ago

So nothing to do with the lengthening waiting times, and which are getting worse, under his labour govt? https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-60246715

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
5 months ago

Stoical !…so it is our fault…for expecting so little from our Government…

Beth
Beth
5 months ago

The british tory government is killing the NHS. They are the ones who promised millions and didn’t deliver. Don’t just target welsh labour, target tories in parliament too, as they are the ones squeezing this nation dry. As for this article, I am not stoic about my symptoms, I simply can’t get an appointment and can’t afford private. So all I can do is hope my symptoms are nothing serious. Even if I did get an appointment, I’m usually prescribed ibuprofen and told to come back in a few weeks. Even though I’ve had symptoms and taken ibuprofen for months.… Read more »

BigJone
BigJone
5 months ago
Reply to  Beth

Healthcare is devolved. Stop blaming the tories and take a look closer to home.

Fiona Hughes
Fiona Hughes
5 months ago

Yeah right! it’s because you can’t get seen by a doctor! 3 ambulance trips in less than 5 months because the doctors didn’t think I needed calling back or seeing! Now nearly 4 weeks waiting to finally hear from the hospital to do the operation to stop me vomiting every single day and unable to keep my epilepsy and pain medication down, it’s all gone to hell.

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