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Wales cancer waiting times put under the microscope in government pilot

By South Wales Evening Post  |  Posted: May 08, 2014

By Amy Downward / amy.downward@swwmedia.co.uk / @Amy_SWalesPost

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A 'single cancer pathway' has been announced to speed up treatment

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A PILOT project to test new ways of measuring cancer waiting times in Wales is under way.

The Welsh Government has announced what they are calling a single cancer pathway in order to speed up treatment.

But some AMs have raised concerns about the new measurements, including South Wales West AM, who said: "The Welsh Government hasn't met its urgent cancer waiting times since 2008. I am concerned therefore that they are moving the goalposts to avoid inconvenient headlines rather than addressing the fundamental issue of improving care for patients

"I am appalled that many Welsh patients are being forced to wait more than two months until the start of their treatment.

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"I am also concerned that radiotherapy services in Singleton Hospital are not being fully utilised so as to ensure much earlier identification of cancer.

"If we are to improve survival rates and start hitting Welsh Government targets then we need much earlier identification and treatment as well as more priority given to this area by health boards."

Two years ago waiting times for suspected cancer patients in Swansea, Neath and Port Talbot were the worst in Wales.

The Welsh Government has said the new measures will give a better picture of whether cancer patients receive timely treatment, regardless how the disease is diagnosed.

Bethan Jenkins, AM for South Wales West said: "Cancer waiting times in the Abertawe Bro Morgannwg area, using the present criteria, usually under-perform the Welsh average, but not by much.

"Of greater concern to me is this latest attempt by the Welsh Government to move the goalposts by pretending the existing performance measures — which show regular failings — don't matter.

"Instead, the Health Minister should adopt the recommendations of the recent Nuffield report, which argued for the regular publication of better data which can be compared with the other nations in the UK."

The pilot will run until September 30.

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