Welsh cancer care plan looks to improve survival rates

A five-year programme designed to cut cancer cases and improve survival rates has been launched in Wales.

The Cancer Delivery Plan will focus on early diagnosis and more effective cooperation between GPs, hospitals and other health care providers.

Last year the cancer charity Macmillan called for a major overhaul of care in Wales, and warned that patient numbers were set to double within 20 years.

Health Minister Lesley Griffiths launched the plan in Wrexham.

One in three people in Wales are likely to be affected by cancer before they reach 75, and around four out of 10 people will be affected at some point during their lifetime, according to Welsh government figures.

Ministers said tackling the disease, and its consequences across Wales, was an important commitment of its programme for government and its five-year NHS plan, Together for Health.

Ahead of the Cancer Delivery Plan's launch, Mrs Griffiths said: "Wales has the highest rate of improved survival in the UK in recent years, with uptake of cancer screening programmes here among the highest in Europe.

"We continue to make significant investments in treatments and research.

"However, we need to go further. We need, for example, to increase survival rates even more, especially in our deprived communities."

As part of the new scheme, cancer sufferers will provide feedback about their treatment.

"An important element of our work is using a person's experience of NHS cancer care to help design better services," said Mrs Griffiths.

"This will be achieved by focusing on how many people have a key worker to co-ordinate seamless care and a care plan to assess, record and meet the need of the individual.

"It is now time for local health boards to take the lead, working effectively together with their partner NHS trusts, GPs, pharmacies, dentists, opticians, local government, third sector partners and others, to plan and deliver cancer care services Wales can be proud of."

Quality of life

But the minister said a cancer drugs fund would not be introduced in Wales, and there was no evidence it would make any difference to quality of life or survival.

Susan Morris, general manager for Macmillan in Wales, welcomed the Cancer Delivery Plan. The charity said it had been working with the Welsh government.

"This is a great opportunity to improve services and to make sure patients are at the very core of cancer services, with access to appropriate treatment and the right information to make informed decisions about their treatment path," Ms Morris said.

Last year the Conservatives said Wales needed a "cancer tsar" to drive up standards and the Liberal Democrats said ministers should take responsibility for improvements.

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