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Nurses key to improving cancer services in Wales, says government report

Six clinical nurse specialists in south west Wales have a key role in improving acute oncology services, an NHS report highlights.
Cancer_Nurse-SPL.jpg

Six clinical nurse specialists in south west Wales have a key role in improving acute oncology services, a government report has said.

The appointment of two clinical nurse specialists in Swansea and four clinical nurse specialists to support services under the Hywel Dda University Health Board was outlined in the recent Cancer Annual Report .

The report was published by NHS Wales and the Welsh government on 15 February, and looked at a range of aspects in cancer care, including a continuing problem with late diagnosis of the disease. Findings showed that too many patients are being diagnosed through an emergency route.

International studies consistently show Wales toward the bottom of international comparators for cancer survival, and highlight stage-at-diagnosis as

Six clinical nurse specialists in south west Wales have a key role in improving acute oncology services, a government report has said.


The earlier the cancer is detected, the less intensive the treatment, with
outcomes likely to be improved. Picture: Science Photo Library 

The appointment of two clinical nurse specialists in Swansea and four clinical nurse specialists to support services under the Hywel Dda University Health Board was outlined in the recent Cancer Annual Report.

The report was published by NHS Wales and the Welsh government on 15 February, and looked at a range of aspects in cancer care, including a continuing problem with late diagnosis of the disease. Findings showed that too many patients are being diagnosed through an emergency route.

‘International studies consistently show Wales toward the bottom of international comparators for cancer survival, and highlight stage-at-diagnosis as a possible causative factor,’ it said, adding: ‘Detecting cancer early is vital, as it makes it more likely that treatment can be less intensive, less expensive and more likely to achieve improved outcomes.’

Successful campaign 

A lack of public awareness of symptoms and willingness to see GPs, the difficulty in identifying vague symptoms, and a reluctance by doctors to refer onwards because of concerns over accessibility to testing, were identified as some of the reasons for delayed diagnosis.

A Macmillan framework has been adopted to improve earlier detection and has seen a successful recruitment campaign of doctors and nurses in 2016, the report said.

Compared with five years ago, several improvements in cancer care were noted in the annual document, such as ‘a huge increase in referrals, including 56% more urgent GP referrals for suspected cancer’ and ‘an 11% increase in those treated within target times’.

Lung cancer survival rates in Wales remain poor and below many parts of Europe. But the report said a peer review found more comprehensive support for patients was being offered by specialist nurses than three years ago, and there was greater clarity around key workers.

Increased spending 

The Welsh government said it had increased spending on cancer services, providing nearly £10 million for replacement accelerators and supporting a new £200m Velindrew Cancer Centre. Diagnostics are to be improved through a £15m fund, while £4.5m will be invested in the Wales Cancer Research Centre between 2015-18.

Cancer Research UK policy manager Sara Bainbridge said: ‘We’re pleased to see the spending allocations for diagnosis and treatment, as this is crucial to ensure more people survive their cancer.

‘The next steps must include ambitious action to increase diagnostic capacity, so the NHS in Wales can deliver tests on time for people who might have cancer.’


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