HEALTH Minister Vaughan Gething has set out his vision for cutting edge precision medicine to improve health and deliver a sustainable future for NHS Wales.
During, a visit to the Rutherford Cancer Centre in Newport, Mr Gething announced new strategies to transform pathology and precision therapeutics in Wales.
He said: “To address future challenges from the increasing burden of disease we must focus more on prevention, early detection and personalised targeted treatments. Precision medicine will increasingly support a more personalised approach to health and care.
“In Wales, we are already making progress in the field of precision medicine and I am confident that we can be a global player in the race to harness its potential. NHS Wales is on the cusp of realising the significant benefits that can be delivered by advances in precision medicine for patients by offering the right test or treatment at the right time.
“Our long term plan ‘A Healthier Wales’ recognises the importance of moving towards earlier detection and intervention to prevent illness and prolong independence.”
One of the first patients in the UK to receive high-energy proton beam therapy has today praised UK oncologists for embracing proton beam therapy and the transformative effects it has had on his treatment.
Ryan Scott, 23, from Cardigan in Wales, underwent treatment for a brain tumour (grade 1 craniopharyngioma) at the Rutherford Cancer Centre South Wales in Newport as part of NHS Wales’ proton beam therapy treatment pathway for adults.
Ryan Scott said: “I was very pleased when my consultant recommended proton beam therapy and told me that it was available close to home in South Wales. I was due to be treated with proton beam therapy over the course of eight weeks in the United States, a disruption I was not looking forward to. Happily, however, the agreement between NHS Wales and the Rutherford Cancer Centres was struck just in time for me to be treated a short drive from home.
“The process of undergoing proton beam therapy was much better than anticipated. There have been hardly any side effects and being able to sleep in my bed after a day’s treatment is a real plus.”
Mr Gething explained the Welsh Government had a clear vision for harnessing technology to deliver precision medicine in diagnostics and therapy that will ensure a sustainable future for NHS Wales.
“The Rutherford Cancer Centre in Newport, which was the first facility in the UK to offer proton beam therapy for cancer patients, is an excellent example of the development of new cancer therapies, here in Wales. It’s a perfect illustration of how we are working collaboratively to deliver technological innovations to improve treatment,” he said.
“Today I have published our Statement of Intent for Advanced Therapeutic Medicinal Products, which sets out how we will deliver precision therapeutics, like new cell therapies, in Wales.
“Alongside this, I have published a Statement of Intent to transform pathology services. All this builds on our recent investment in diagnostic services such as the new Imaging Academy for Wales.
“In this financial year, I am pleased to provide additional funding of £2.3m to support the delivery of new genetic tests together with a further £2m to support national plans for transforming diagnostic, health science and advanced therapeutic medical services in NHS Wales.”
Andrew Goodall, chief executive of NHS Wales, also attended today’s official opening.
The centre is part of a nationwide network that provides state-of-the-art cancer services including imaging, chemotherapy, immunotherapy, radiotherapy and high energy proton beam therapy.
The Newport centre was recently approved by the Welsh Health Specialised Services Committee (WHSSC) to provide high energy proton beam therapy to adult patients referred from the NHS in Wales, the centre also treated the first patient in the UK with proton beam therapy in April last year.
Mike Moran, chief executive of Proton Partners International which operates the Rutherford Cancer Centres, said: “It is gratifying to see UK oncologists becoming increasingly aware of proton therapy and embracing the treatment. Our collaborative partnership with the NHS in Wales means that adult patients have an option to be treated closer to home.
“I am delighted by the support we have received from the Health Minister, the Welsh Government, the Wales Life Sciences Investment Fund and the NHS in Wales which has meant that Wales has been the pioneer in proton beam therapy in the UK. Patient demand is increasing and it is encouraging that the UK is beginning to catch up with Europe in the provision of this therapy.”
Coronavirus update and face mask shortage
THE OUTBREAK of coronavirus in China continues to evolve and cases have been reported in over 20 countries around the world.
Although the risk to the public remains moderate, Wales’ medical authorities continue to plan and implement targeted services so that they can mount a swift and proportionate response.
Following weeks of preparation, the virology laboratory at University Hospital of Wales commenced testing for COVID-19 on February 7.
Before this, Public Health England undertook testing.
Wales’ Chief Medical Officer, Dr Frank Atherton, said: “I would like to thank Public Health Wales for their expertise and dedication in providing this important testing service and for developing and supporting the wider NHS response. More than 100 people have so far been tested in Wales and we have had no confirmed cases to date.
“I wrote to the NHS in the week ending February 7, advising on the importance of immediate implementation of community assessment and testing services and the establishment of Coronavirus Testing Units separate from Emergency Departments.
“Implementing community assessment and testing services allows for people with mild symptoms to remain self-isolated at home where they are attended by trained clinical professionals who can assess their health and undertake the necessary tests.”
Dr Atherton continued: “Coronavirus Testing Units will ensure that individuals who present to our acute hospitals because of concerns they are at risk can receive prompt assessment in an area separate from Emergency Departments. Both measures benefit the individuals without impacting on the day to day services provided by our NHS.
The advice for travellers remains unchanged – all travellers who develop flu-like symptoms however mild, (these symptoms could be a fever, a cough, or difficulty breathing) within 14 days of returning from mainland China, Thailand, Japan, Republic of Korea, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, Malaysia or Macau, should self-isolate at home immediately and call NHS Direct Wales or 111, if available in their area. It is important to note that travellers from Wuhan and Hubei province should self-isolate for 14 days, even if they do not have symptoms, due to the increased risk from that area.”
As for what steps the public can take to reduce the risk of transmission, those remain the same as for any respiratory virus. Dr Atherton said: “The advice is to catch it, bin it, kill it and wash your hands.
“I will continue to coordinate action with my fellow UK Chief Medical Officers in response to the developing situation. I will keep you regularly informed of developments.”
FACE MASK SHORTAGE HITS DENTISTS
The British Dental Association (BDA) has warned the shortage of face masks sparked by the coronavirus outbreak now poses an imminent risk of disruption to UK dental services unless officials and industry are prepared to ease rationing.
The Association reports it has been inundated by calls from member practices unclear on their options, in the wake of panic buying and supply problems. The People’s Republic of China is the world’s leading manufacturer of sanitary masks, and several suppliers have tripled their prices since January.
Based on contact with leading suppliers the BDA reports a ‘one size fits all’ model of rationing has now already left practices unable to order more than 2 boxes of masks per day (ie: 100 masks) irrespective of their size.
The Association estimates a single surgery in a typical NHS practice, seeing around 28 patients per day, will be getting through 5 boxes of masks a week. Private practices, which typically see fewer patients, are consuming half as many, around 2.5 boxes a week.
While smaller practices may be able to maintain viability on permitted orders of 10 boxes per week (2 per working day), even ‘two-chair’ NHS practices are now likely to use up their allocation completely.
The BDA is dealing with enquires from practices with up to 13 chairs.
‘Single-handed’ practices make up less than 20% of all UK providers.
Under the current guidance, Health Technical Memorandum 01-05 (HTM 01-05), all dental professionals operating in England should wear Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) including disposable face masks, clinical gloves, household gloves, plastic disposable aprons, and eye protection.
In Scotland, practitioners are permitted to use disposable masks or reusable visors interchangeably.
The BDA has indicated it will ask the Welsh Government and NHS England to invoke force majeure clauses in NHS contracts should the situation deteriorate further, to protect multiple practices left unable to meet their contractual targets in the event of disruption.
BDA Chair Mick Armstrong said: “In recent weeks dentists have been hit by panic buying, clumsy rationing and naked profiteering. Sadly a ‘one size fits all’ approach from suppliers is leaving many larger practices with few options.
“Our abiding interest is the safety of our patients, who face imminent disruption to their care.
“Unless we see a rapid increase in supply, dentists without face masks will have little choice but to down drills.”
Extended park and ride service for Glangwili Hospital
An extended shuttle service will run directly between Nantyci car park and Glangwili Hospital starting Monday 3 February.
This service, funded by Hywel Dda University Health Board (UHB), is in response to staff feedback following a temporary suspension of parking measures at both Glangwili and Prince Philip hospitals.
The Carmarthen park and ride service PR2 will leave Nantyci car park (SA31 3SA) at 0700, then every half hour from 1830 to 2130. The buses will return from the hospital at 0714 then every half hour from 1844 to 2144.
Andrew Carruthers, Director of Operations at Hywel Dda UHB, said: “Following the temporary suspension of parking measures at Glangwili and Prince Philip hospitals we immediately spoke with our staff to find out what could be put in place to reduce the number of staff who have no alternative but to park on site.
“The operating hours of the park and ride were a recurrent theme for Glangwili staff with many saying that they couldn’t make use of it if they worked shifts.
“We hope to see many more of our staff using the park and ride following our investment to extend the hours while we continue to explore further options to help alleviate parking pressures at Glangwili.”
The PR1 park and ride service will continue its current operating hours between 0730 to 1825, departing Nantyci on the hour and on the half hour towards the hospital via the town centre. The PR1 service will leave Glangwili Hospital to return to Nantyci at quarter past and quarter to the hour.
For passengers starting their journey at Nantyci car park, parking remains free and bus travel to and from the town centre (service PR1) or the hospital (services PR1 and PR2) will be only £1 for a day return ticket, with free travel for children under 16 if accompanied by an adult. This journey is free for all Hywel Dda employees, simply show your ID badge.
Life of Carmarthen mother turned on its head after starring in TV health series
A Carmarthen woman who starred in a health and fitness TV programme last year is urging people to put their names forward for the new series.
Annaly Jones’ life has been turned on its head after being selected to take part as one five leaders on S4C’s FFIT Cymru last April. Viewers followed Annaly’s progress closely as she managed to lose two stone in just seven weeks by following bespoke fitness and food plans provided by a team of experts from the show.
She has continued her progress since by eating healthily and limiting takeaways and snacks, swapping wine for lower calorie drinks on nights out and exercising regularly. Last September, she completed the Cardiff 10k run with two of her fellow leaders from the show, Matthew and David.
Prior to appearing on the show, the busy single mother struggled to find time to exercise and cook healthy meals, while working two jobs and raising her three sons.
Annaly said: “I used to try different diets – Weight Watchers, Slimming World, and I would reach a certain level and reward myself with a bottle of wine and a takeaway and after a while I would just go back to eating how I was before. I wasn’t doing any exercise either, I didn’t have the confidence to go the gym because the perception was that everyone was healthy and thin.
“I decided to enter FFIT Cymru because one of my friends had applied the year before, and looking back now, I’m so glad I did. It’s changed my life altogether, the way I think about food, exercise and about myself generally.
“I’m still not the size I want to be, I’d like to go down one more size, but I can go clothes shopping now knowing that the clothes look better on me than last year. I don’t stick to the diet completely and I don’t stop myself from having fun or having the odd takeaway. If I eat something that’s a bit naughty, I work it off in a different way, by making sure my other meals that day are healthy, or doing some exercise.
“I understand now which foods are healthy but also tasty. I’ve learnt to like myself too – I deserve to be happy and to be successful.”
Since the series ended last year, Annaly has also made a big change in her career, by moving to Nantgaredig to take over the lease of the Railway Hotel, with friend Melanie Phillips Rees. Annaly believes that her starring role in the TV series gave her the confidence boost she needed to make such a big decision.
“We took over on the first of October and it’s been brilliant,” she added. “We have some fantastic locals supporting us and there’s no mention of Dry January!
“It was a massive step for me to do FFIT Cymru, and it’s given me this ‘why not’ attitude. I’ve definitely rediscovered a lot of my self-confidence since then. When we were offered the lease of the pub, I thought, ‘why not?’. I think not trying at all is worse than trying something and failing.
“I’ve had a career change, I’ve moved house and I’ve carried on losing weight – I’m just happier in myself now.
“I could inspire just one person to go for it and apply for the show this year, I’d be so chuffed. It was an amazing experience, one that you only get to do once. I’m a bit jealous of the ones who get to do it this year to be honest!”
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