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Cancer treatment ‘delays’ criticised

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nhsclockTHE WELSH LABOUR GOVERNMENT has been criticised over delays in providing cancer treatment – even though the Welsh NHS treated a higher percentage of patients within the target time than it’s English counterpart.

Figures released for September showed that 85.9% of patients referred through the Urgent Suspected Cancer (USC) route started definitive treatment within 62 days. The target in Wales is 95%, which has not been achieved since 2008.

In England, the comparable target rate is 85%, which the Welsh NHS successfully met. However, figures released by the English NHS in September showed that in September 80.67% of patients were treated within the target time.

This was, in itself, not sufficient to stop criticism from Plaid Cymru, the Lib Dems, and the Welsh Conservatives.

For Plaid Cymru, Elin Jones said: “Two years ago, the First Minister promised that his Labour government would meet its cancer waiting times targets. However, month after month, this government still fails to deliver on its promise. Poor delivery and broken promises continue to be the hallmark of this Labour government.

“Patients, who are in uncertain times, are waiting too long for the tests needed to diagnose cancer. A Plaid Cymru government would drive down these waiting times by investing in three new specialist diagnostic centres across Wales, so that people with suspected cancer will no longer face unnecessary delays. Plaid Cymru wants to establish an ambitious target of 28 days from GP referral to diagnosis or the all clear.”

This is similar to one of the strategies outlined by Conservative Shadow Health Minister Darren Millar, who also suggested a 28 day diagnosis to referral target. He also mentioned increased spending on cancer treatment, and a Cancer Patients Fund, which will cost around £100m over the next five years if implemented. This will also include ‘improved access to modern cancer drugs’ – thought to be similar to the cancer drugs fund in England, which has itself been criticised recently for overspending and removing around 60 treatments this year alone.

Mr Millar said: “Over seven years have now passed since this target was last hit. That’s a national scandal that Labour consistently refuses to acknowledge.

“Communities will rightly question why Labour ministers have failed to oversee any significant, prolonged improvement and patients deserve an explanation.

“More than 80 people didn’t get the treatment they needed in the appropriate time during September alone. That’s 80 too many.

“Delays between diagnosis and treatment create huge added worry for patients and their families and can often result in poorer outcomes.

“Welsh Conservatives would provide the investment our NHS deserves. A 100 million pounds patients’ fund would ensure accountability in frontline cancer services and boosted access to treatment.”

Kirsty Williams AM, Leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats, said: “Being diagnosed with cancer is as incredibly stressful time for anyone. It’s appalling that, following their diagnosis, many people are being forced to wait over two months until the start of their treatment.

“It’s been eight years since the target of 95% was met in Wales and we are still not seeing the improvement that is dearly needed. NHS staff are trying their best, but Labour Ministers continue to let down both staff and patients.

“The Welsh Liberal Democrats will deliver an NHS that puts patients first. For too long patients’ views have been side-lined. We’ll put patients’ views front and centre to create an NHS that Wales deserves.”

A spokesperson for the Welsh Government said: “We have made progress in improving cancer care in Wales, with more people than ever now surviving cancer, even though more people are being diagnosed. We are pleased to see that performance in both 31 and 62-day pathways have improved in September 2015 when compared to August.

“The Deputy Health Minister continues to make clear his expectations to the Welsh NHS that performance must keep improving to ensure more people start their treatment within target time. Each health board has produced a 100-day plan to improve performance locally and regionally; health boards are collaborating to improve performance for key cancer sites.

“The Macmillan Cancer Support survey showed 89% of patients rated their care in Wales as either excellent or very good. This is a credit to our dedicated NHS staff and to cancer support networks across Wales.”

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Health

Werndale Hospital recognised for outstanding patient care in national award

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STAFF at Werndale Hospital near Carmarthen have been recognised for the quality of their patient care. 

The prestigious ‘Private Hospital Group of the Year’ award is presented to an organisation that has shown excellence in its delivery of care, commitment to the community and innovation within healthcare.

Werndale Hospital was also recognised for their initiatives to support staff in their career progression and wellbeing.   

The latest statistics show, 98% of patients at Werndale Hospital were satisfied with their overall level of care, 98% of patients would recommend their care to family and friends, and 98% of patients rated the nursing staff as excellent or very good. 

In addition, independent analysis of Circle hospitals’ hip and knee procedure outcomes of health improvement shows that Circle scored 8.4 versus an independent sector average of 7.8 in the hip category, and a score of 15.4 versus an independent sector average of 13.9 in the knee category.   

The award presented to Circle Health Group, owners of Werndale Hospital, in London in June, also noted the extraordinary contribution the teams at the hospital had made to the community. 

In 2021 alone, Werndale Hospital partnered with Air Ambulance Wales and raised £1,205 to support the charity’s work in the community.  

In addition to the charitable work, Werndale Hospital was recognised for it’s commitment to support staff through a series of wellbeing initiatives and career development opportunities. The judges were particularly impressed with the launch of the ‘Be Heard’ survey at the hospital.   

The survey looks to empower staff to feedback on everything from the working environment at the hospital through to their own career ambitions. Building directly on the feedback from this survey, the ‘Grow Your Own’ campaign was launched which supported staff to work towards specific qualifications from nursing degrees with partnered universities through to bespoke management programmes and MBA qualifications.   

As a direct result of this support for staff at what is a challenging time for healthcare workers, Werndale Hospital and Circle Heath Group were recognised as being a Top 20 Best Large Company to work for.   

At the heart of Werndale Hospital’s approach to treating patients is a commitment to the community they serve.  

 Paolo Pieri, CEO of Circle Health Group, said:  “The award is a testament to what an amazing year 2021 was for Werndale Hospital with considerable investment into the facilities and services on offer to patients in west Wales. I couldn’t be prouder of what our staff and doctors have achieved.”  

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Aberglasney Gardens delighted to win 2022 Trip advisor Travellers’ Choice Award

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ABERGLASNEY Gardens is thrilled to have been recognised by Tripadvisor as a 2022 Travellers’ Choice Award winner for being in the top 10% of attractions worldwide.

The Award recognises businesses that consistently deliver great service with the Gardens being rated ‘Excellent’ by 342 visitors.

The award celebrates businesses that have received great traveller reviews from around the globe on Tripadvisor over the last 12 months. As challenging as the past year has been, Aberglasney stood out by consistently delivering positive experiences to visitors.

Aberglasney’s Director of Operations Jim Stribling said: “We are delighted to have once again won an award from Tripadvisor. It is fantastic recognition for the team’s hard work and dedication. To rank among the top ten percent of those listed on Trip Advisor as one of the best places to visit is outstanding.

“We are grateful to all those who take the time to leave us a review after visiting. It is no cliché when I say all the team, be it in the gift shop, the gardeners, the tearooms and the administrative team, all take the reviews on board to help make a visit to Aberglasney the best possible experience for everyone.”

Tripadvisor, the world’s largest travel guidance platform, helps hundreds of millions of people each month become better travellers, from planning, to booking, to taking a trip. Travelers across the globe use the Tripadvisor site and app to discover where to stay, what to do and where to eat based on guidance from those who have been there before.

With more than 988 million reviews and opinions of nearly eight million businesses, travellers turn to Tripadvisor to find deals on accommodation, book experiences, reserve tables at restaurants and discover great places nearby.

As a travel guidance company available in 43 markets and 22 languages, Tripadvisor makes planning easy no matter the trip type.

“Congratulations to the 2022 Tripadvisor Travellers’ Choice Winners,” said Kanika Soni, Chief Commercial Officer at Tripadvisor. “The Travellers’ Choice Awards recognise the best in tourism and hospitality, according to those who matter most: your guests.

“Ranking among the Travellers’ Choice winners is always tough – but never more so than this year as we emerge from the pandemic. Whether it’s using new technology, implementing safety measures, or hiring outstanding staff, I’m impressed by the steps you’ve taken to meet travellers’ new demands. You’ve adapted brilliantly in the face of adversity.”

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Education

Council’s plan to expand bilingual education will be a gradual journey over 10 years

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Carmarthenshire County Council

CARMARTHENSHIRE County Council’s vision to increase bilingual education in Carmarthenshire will be a gradual journey over 10 years.

The Cabinet met yesterday (Monday, July 4) to discuss the Welsh in Education Strategic Plan (WESP), and emphasised that it was important to give all children and young people the opportunity to develop their Welsh language skills.

However, members stressed that families will still have a choice on the language in which their children will be taught over the next decade and after 2032.

The plan sets out how the council will develop Welsh language provision in schools based on the outcomes and targets set by the Welsh Government.

All councils across Wales have to submit 10-year Welsh language education plans to the Welsh Government in order to meet its target of one million Welsh speakers by 2050.

The outcomes include more nursery and reception children being taught through the medium of Welsh; more young people studying for qualifications in Welsh as a subject, and subjects through the medium of Welsh; increasing provision for learners with Additional Learning Needs; and increasing the number of teachers able to teach Welsh and through the medium of Welsh – with continuing support to develop staff through a comprehensive and flexible training programme.

The Cabinet said it was important for the council to provide more opportunities to be bilingual and referred to the various benefits it brings – from educational attainment to employability and health.

Cabinet Member for Education and Welsh Language, Cllr Glynog Davies said the aim was to meet and exceed the target set by Welsh Government on the percentage of Carmarthenshire pupils receiving their education through the medium of Welsh by 3032 (10-14%).

It included changing the language provision at 10 schools over the next 10 years creating an opportunity for a further 300 learners to be educated in Welsh.

He said: “We want to build on the progress made in early years education provision, and my ambition is clear – equal opportunities across the county.

“It is worth noting that we have the largest percentage 57.5 percent of nursery age children taught through the medium of Welsh. Immersion education is key to the strategy, and it is important that we continue to see an increase in the percentage of children transferring from the Meithrin groups to Welsh-medium education in the Foundation Phase.

“These early years are so important, the children are like sponges, absorbing information and absorbing a new language.

“We must then continue to see an increase in numbers in our reception classes, we say this even though we are the authority with the largest percentage (62.5 percent) of children receiving their education through the medium of Welsh.

“Children must continue to improve their Welsh when going from one school phase to another, and we need to make sure all children have the opportunity to pursue their secondary education through the medium of Welsh.

“At the same time, we need to give children and young people the confidence to use Welsh, in school and in the community. That’s what we want to see isn’t it, more and more using Welsh, hearing Welsh on the street. We need to develop and build on skills and confidence.”

Cabinet Member for Rural Affairs and Planning Policy, Cllr Ann Davies said: “I am extremely pleased to see this document and have a pleasure in supporting it. Working with young children, that is children under three-years-old, I can say that children pick up language very quickly, they absorb it, and the process is very different to learning a language. As they get older the process in the brain is completely different. I am pleased to see that there is an emphasis on early years, that is when we need to start.”

Cabinet Member for Resources, Cllr Alun Lenny said: “It is very important to state that there are many advantages to learning a language, obviously for careers, especially in health and social care where patients and clients must have a choice of language, it’s important particularly for older people, and young children, and people with dementia.

“The Chief Constable of Dyfed-Powys Police has stated he is keen for all his staff to speak a certain level of Welsh, so we have a duty here to support that.

“The advantages of being bilingual are multiple, socially and in the world of work, and this strategy is very much welcomed.”

The WESP has come back to the cabinet for discussion following feedback from the Welsh Government, mainly to include some additional data and detail. It will now be submitted to the Welsh Government for final approval. A public consultation was held last year.

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