Welsh Conservatives have called on the Welsh Government to make cancer a priority and improve services and treatments for patients across Wales.
Summing up their Assembly Debate on the Cancer Delivery Plan this week, North Wales Assembly Member Mark Isherwood emphasised the need for Local Health Boards to publish their cancer delivery plans and ensure that cancer services are timely, person-centred and that people’s clinical and wider non-clinical needs, including access to financial advice and support, are met.
Mr Isherwood said: “As Shadow Health Minister Darren Millar AM (Clwyd West) stated, cancer is still the leading cause of death in Wales, and it must be a priority for Welsh Government and NHS, but the process is far from working well.
“It is not right that Wales has a higher proportion of people dying from cancer than the rest of the UK or that cancer survival rates in Wales are well below the European average.”
He added: “ As Janet Finch-Saunders AM (Aberconwy) stated, there has been a 70% improvement in cancer survival rates since 1992. One of those cancer survivors is one of my own daughters, who is now living a full and happy life, after having been diagnosed as a teenager. However, there are concerns about the implementation of the cancer delivery plan, especially with regard to early intervention, public awareness and inconsistency across Wales.”
Mr Isherwood also referred to the points raised in the debate by fellow North Wales AM Antoinette Sandbach AM.
He said: “Antoinette expressed alarm that more than 8,000 people are dying as a result of cancer in Wales every year and that cancer patients in England are five times more likely to have access to new cancer drugs than patients in Wales, while the NHS spends millions on free paracetamol, which is available for 20p at local supermarkets.”
Mr Isherwood welcomed the Health Minister’s statement that he will be supporting the motion and that he shares concerns over waiting times and publication of the LHB plans.
He added: “I hope that his words will now become proven actions, and that, in future, people - practitioners, patients and politicians - will all have full access to all of the information that they need and deserve.”