Wales politics

Cancer fund petition launched at Royal Welsh Show

A petition calling for easier access to life-prolonging cancer treatments is being launched by the Welsh Conservatives.

They want £5m to be invested in a cancer treatments fund which they say would result in "enormous benefits". A similar fund has been set in England.

But the Welsh government says there is no evidence that it would improve quality of life or survival rates.

The petition is being launched at the Royal Welsh Show in Builth Wells.

The Conservatives say independent research by the Rarer Cancers Foundation found 24 cancer medicines routinely available to patients in England, which are not as easily available in Wales - something the Welsh government said was "untrue".

The Conservatives say creating a fund would also provide opportunity to extend the use of mobile cancer treatment centres in Wales staffed by nurses who can provide treatment and support to patients away from hospital.

Darren Millar, the Conservatives spokesman on health said: "It's currently more difficult to access modern cancer treatments in Wales than in other parts of the UK.

"Whether it's drugs, other treatments or physical access to services, we want to see more done to improve provision."

A spokesperson for Health Minister Lesley Griffiths said the UK government has spent £50m of its £200m cancer drugs fund while Wales spent over £70m on cancer drugs, with the nation spending £4.50 more per head on cancer care than in England.

"There is no evidence that such a fund improves the quality of life or survival rates," he said.

"In fact, many senior clinicians believe the fund raises false hopes, operates inconsistently and takes money away from other equally deserving diseases - the precise reason why we have taken the right path in Wales."

The petition comes a day after Cancer Research UK said four times as many people in their 50s in Wales are now diagnosed with the worst form of skin cancer as 30 years ago, one of the biggest increases in the UK.

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