Welsh government accused of putting lives at risk with cancer strategy
Welsh Conservatives have criticised the Welsh Government over the lack of a “proper strategy” to fight cancer, claiming current provision is “not up to scratch.”
Shadow Health Minister Russell George MS claimed that people are being put at risk by the lack of strategy and rapid diagnostic centres to ensure that life-threatening conditions are identified promptly.
The comments came after Andy Glyde, from Cancer Research UK, gave evidence to the Senedd’s health committee this week saying that without a comprehensive national strategy it is hard to improve Wales’ cancer services.
Speaking on behalf of Cancer UK and 19 other charities which form the umbrella body Wales Cancer Alliance, Mr Glyde told Senedd members that the World Health Organisation advises every country to develop such a plan.
He said that the quality statement for cancer issued by ministers earlier this year “lacked ambition” to transform existing services and really only set “minimum standards for cancer services.”
He added: “It’s really difficult to see what the pathway is for improvement innovation in cancer services long term and at a national level…The thing that we’re really missing is a cancer strategy right now.
“Once Northern Ireland launches theirs soon, Wales will be the only UK nation without a cancer strategy.”
Responding to the comments, Russell George MS said: “Devolution was supposed to be about Wales having opportunities to move faster than other parts of the UK and get better results, not falling behind part of the UK.
“Sadly, the Welsh Government have kept up their record of letting down the people of Wales. What is currently in place is not up to scratch.
“Indeed, they have put them at risk with the lack of a proper strategy to fight cancer. Those aren’t just my words, but those of experts who work for cancer charities.
“Welsh Conservatives have long maintained that central to any strategy must be the establishment of rapid diagnostic centres across the nation.
“Not only will this save lives by spotting cancer earlier, but it will take pressure off frontline NHS services, which are under now under incredible pressure.”
Earlier this year Welsh Conservatives revealed figures showing number of people entering hospitals in Wales for cancer treatment had fallen by over 40,000 and that nearly 60,000 breast cancer screenings were missed during the pandemic, with a charity predicting almost 620 women are living with undiagnosed breast cancer.
A Welsh government spokesperson said ministers had “set out a comprehensive approach to improving cancer outcomes in our quality statement for cancer”.
“This includes important commitments to recover from the impact of the pandemic, meet the suspected cancer pathway waiting time and detect cancer at earlier stages.
“Health boards and trusts will plan and deliver cancer services in response to these commitments.”
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