Cancer :: Cancer bill to rise as survival rate increases in Wales

Cancer services in Wales are over-stretched and over-complicated, according to a new report by the UK assembly health committee review, that also found confusion within the NHS when it comes to planning and funding care.

The year-long review of cancer services has been carried out by the Assembly’s Health and Social Services Committee and calls for a significant boost in investment.

Cancer is the potentially fatal disease that strikes fear in to most of us. After all, according to statistics, one in three people will develop cancer in their lifetime. And yet a shocking new report published reveals that patients in Wales are being let down due to ‘glaring gaps’ in the most basic treatment they receive.

One of the biggest issues facing the NHS and governments is the growing cost of cancer treatment, which will continue to escalate as more drugs come onto the market and people live longer with the disease as a chronic condition.

Health Minister Dr Brian Gibbons, speaking at the Wales Against Cancer conference in Cardiff yesterday, said, “We are beginning to move towards a phase where cancer is increasingly becoming a chronic disease, rather than one in which death is inevitable in a relatively short time.

The funding of non-approved but licensed drugs is a complex one and their availability could depend on where you live in Wales. Health Wales contacted each of the 22 local health boards in Wales and 13 NHS trusts to ask whether they funded high-cost drugs before they have been appraised by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (Nice).

However, Health Commission Wales is to get ?3.2 million from the Welsh Assembly Government for the phased implementation of a national bowel cancer screening programme in Wales. The funding for 2007-08 will enable Velindre NHS Trust to start planning the roll out for the service in April, with routine screening for men and women between the ages of 50 and 74 likely to begin towards the end of 2008-09. The screening will take place every two years.