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Election 2011, Guest Blogs, Health, Politics

Guest blog: Veronica German of the Welsh Liberal Democrats

We have been running guest blogs from the four political parties ahead of the Welsh Assembly Elections on May 5.  Veronica German from the Welsh Liberal Democrats who writes about her party’s cancer strategy.

By Veronica German

The Welsh Liberal Democrats have a number of aims when it comes to the subject of Health but I would like to take this particular opportunity to talk about the Welsh Liberal Democrats Cancer Strategy which we released earlier this week.

Cancer is a disease that affects everyone. With more than one in three people likely to develop cancer at some time in their lives, we will all be touched by it at some point, whether it is
ourselves, our families or our friends.

It is, therefore, essential that in Wales we have a cancer strategy that is able to tackle this life altering disease. A recent report from Cancer Research UK found that, worryingly, Wales is falling behind the rest of the UK when it comes to fighting cancer.

The sad truth is that in Wales we have:

  • Lower survival rates than the European average
  • Higher instances of male cancers than the rest of the UK
  • More instances of bowel cancer than the rest of the UK

Yet despite a higher need, we receive a lesser service.The Labour-Plaid Government has failed to deliver a strong and consistent cancer strategy in Wales.Failed to utilise Intensity Modulated Radiotherapy to the fullest extent possible and failed to invest in state of the art bowel cancer screening technology.

The Labour-Plaid government also have no planto establish a cancer drug fund or similar fund, resulting in Welsh patients missing out on medicines their English counterparts can access.

These failures are completely unjustifiable when we have a Welsh NHS which is riddled with unnecessary bureaucracy and waste.

There is no denying that we are living in difficult economic times. Money is scarce and tough decisions have to be made, but cancer is such an important issue that we need to get it right. Through better organisation, by driving efficiencies and seeking and learning from best practice, we can deliver a cancer strategy that not just works, but excels.

By redirecting money currently in the NHS budget we will fund newer medicines and modern equipment to tackle cancer. We will ensure better facilities to help cut waiting times and improve patients’ quality of life

Furthermore, we want to develop an all-encompassing service that is focused on the patient and their family from diagnosis, treatment through to aftercare, remission and palliative care. In short, a service that doesn’t stop when the treatment stops.

Our Strategy, ‘Wales Can Tackle Cancer’ outlines our key cancer aims; they will provide Wales with the outstanding cancer service it deserves.

Our key aims are:

  • To roll out the latest IMRT radiotherapy across Wales
  • Investing in state of the art screening
  • Ensuring a personal service that goes the extra mile for patients and families
  • Tackling inequalities so that Wales has a service comparable to England
  • Providing up to date bespoke information for patients and families
  • Promoting mutual support groups so that patients receive the reassurance they need
  • Establishing a National Cancer Survivorship Programme

Wales can tackle cancer but it needs the government to give it the priority and attention that it deserves.

The Welsh Liberal Democrats have set out plans to develop a comprehensive National Cancer Plan for Wales that will deliver for the thousands of families up and down wales who are touched by cancer.

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