New report into cancer waiting times in Wales
Thursday 19 November 2020
The Welsh Government and NHS Wales should urgently publish a COVID-19 recovery plan to maintain cancer services and provide reassurance to the public that these are continuing safely during the pandemic, a new report says.
The Wales Cross Party Group on Cancer also recommends that a fully-funded plan to increase capacity in cancer diagnostics should be developed. The Group has published a report outlining 19 recommendations to achieve earlier cancer diagnosis in the country, as part of the Single Cancer Pathway (SCP) announced in 2018.
The SCP is the new target within Wales for diagnosing cancer and getting treatment started. From the very first point where cancer might be suspected, a patient should receive cancer diagnostic tests and start their treatment within 62 days.
In August 2020, it was announced that around 75% of patients across Wales started treatment within 62 days of their cancer being suspected. However reporting is currently paused in order to relieve as much pressure on the NHS as possible, due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The main recommendations outlined in the report are:
- The Welsh Government and NHS Wales should urgently commit to developing a new comprehensive cancer strategy to follow the Cancer Delivery Plan, which was due to end in 2020.
- The Welsh Government should restart reporting against the Single Cancer Pathway as a matter of urgency.
- The Welsh Government must urgently publish a COVID-19 Cancer Recovery Plan to maintain cancer services and provide reassurance to the public that cancer services are continuing safely during the pandemic.
- The Welsh Government, Public Health Wales, and the cancer screening programmes should agree optimisation plans to improve the effectiveness of cancer screening including increasing informed uptake and reducing inequalities, with particular focus on bowel and cervical screening.
- The Welsh Government, Health Education and Improvement Wales and the Wales Cancer Network should develop a fully funded plan to increase capacity in cancer diagnostics.
- Local health boards should publish their plans for the development of rapid diagnostic clinics, including timescales and how they could play a role in the wider recovery of diagnostic services from the COVID-19 pandemic.
We launched our End the Capacity Crisis campaign to highlight the challenges facing endoscopy services across the UK, and in 2018 we published a Spotlight on Wales report focusing specifically on the challenges that exist around early diagnosis in Wales. It showed us that the country has some of the poorest outcomes for bowel cancer across Europe and that the Welsh Government and the NHS in Wales must urgently review the way diagnostic services are delivered.
Claire Donaghy, Bowel Cancer UK’s Head of External Affairs for the devolved nations, said: “We welcome this inquiry into cancer waiting times in Wales, and are supportive of the single cancer pathway as we previously called for a review of diagnostic services for bowel cancer. This issue has been further exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Bowel cancer is the second biggest cancer killer in Wales with over 900 people dying from the disease each year. Nine out of 10 people will survive if diagnosed at the earliest stage, that’s why timely access to diagnostic tests is key to improving early diagnosis.
“We now urgently need to see a fully-funded strategy to implement the recommendations outlined in the report, and help stop people dying of the disease unnecessarily.”
- Read more about our End the Capacity Crisis campaign
- Find out more about our work in Wales
- Visit our coronavirus hub for support, guidance and information on coronavirus and bowel cancer