Call for a rescue plan to speed up cancer treatment over fears people will leave it too late to seek help

(Title Image: Nick Youngson under Creative Commons Licence BY-SA-3.0)

Revised coronavirus testing strategy due by the end of next week

With a nod to some of the findings of the Health Committee’s report on Covid-19 (more on that tomorrow), Shadow Social Care Minister, Janet Finch-Saunders MS (Con, Aberconwy), asked whether the impact of discharges to care homes will be properly accounted for in future reports?

She noted the Older People’s Commissioner’s request for step-down facilities to enable safe discharge from hospitals and concerns over the limited availability of testing.

Health Minister, Vaughan Gething (Lab, Cardiff S. & Penarth) said a revised testing strategy would be published by the end of next week.

He repeated that the decision to discharge care home residents from hospitals was based on the available advice at any given time:

“When it comes to the discharges without coronavirus tests, as I’ve said on a number of occasions, that was because that was the state of the current advice. The decision that I took was based on that advice, that at that point in time people without symptoms should not be tested. However, it is worth all of us remembering that a range of those people were being discharged to their own home. I think it’s important that we support people to return and be cared for in their own home as we look to support the wider care home sector.”
– Health & Social Services Minister, Vaughan Gething

Call for rescue plan to speed-up cancer diagnoses and treatments

Rhun ap Iorwerth MS (Plaid, Ynys Môn) said there had been a very worrying decrease in cancer diagnosis rates since the lockdown started:

“The crisis has led to a number of very worrying predictions that excess deaths from cancer are likely to occur this year as a result of screening programmes being cancelled, people being too afraid to visit the NHS….and treatment being postponed….So, will you therefore adopt a cancer rescue plan that has more ambitious targets for testing and treatment than have previously been the case because of the probability that the NHS will be identifying cancers at a later stage?”
– Rhun ap Iorwerth MS

Although part of the Minister’s answer was cut off/inaudible, he said reforms to the cancer treatment process in Wales will give a clearer picture of how many cancer treatment referrals have been impacted by the pandemic.

He cited a suspension (during lockdown) and subsequent restart of endoscopy services as an area which will benefit from the more accurate figures the new treatment pathway will provide. He accepted that the pandemic has caused significant challenges in cancer treatment and pledged to be “open and transparent” about what the Welsh Government were doing.

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