LibLink: Kirsty Williams: Cancer care in Wales

Kirsty Williams 2All the parties in Wales have been asked to write a blog for the Tenovus Cancer Care charity’s website. This is what Kirsty Williams had to say:

Cancer is something that will touch the life of everyone in Wales at some point. So when it does, the system needs to be ready to step up and give the treatment and care patients, and their families, need.

Yesterday the Welsh Liberal Democrats launched our manifesto for the next Welsh Government which contained a number of commitments that would transform cancer care. Cancer causes more than one in four deaths, yet Wales is the only UK nation without a cancer awareness campaign and there are huge variations in cancer outcomes within Wales, we must address this.

In government we would develop an all-Wales Individual Patient Funding Requests panel and remove the ‘exceptionality’ hurdle which prevents many patients’ access to drugs that their clinician thinks could help them. Your clinician should choose your medication, not your postcode.

We have a national cancer plan which health professionals tell us would be fantastic if it was implemented but there is a lack of leadership, with Welsh Ministers all too quick to pass off the blame for a lack of its delivery to others. We need to appoint a National Cancer Director so that there is someone accountable for the delivery of that plan.

The existing Health Technologies Fund was my party’s policy, implemented as a result of budget negotiations with the Welsh Government. It has already brought lots of cutting edge medical equipment to our NHS. We want to take it further, and put the Welsh NHS at the forefront of medical advances, in particular into stratified medicines, by extending the Health Technologies Fund to support the take up of new medicines and by establishing a new Office of Life Sciences.

Something my constituents frequently raise with me is the financial cost of cancer. Travelling to and from chemotherapy is expensive, especially in rural areas. We need to try to bring that cost down by making chemotherapy available closer to people’s homes. For too long services have been centralised, there is no clinical reason why chemotherapy can’t be done in community hospitals and in mobile units, we want to make that a reality.

Finally, I want Wales to be world leaders in end of life care. We must do more to respect people’s wishes and help them to plan better for their own palliative care.

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