Below is our letter sent to Councillors this morning, when we discovered Velindre have fundamentally altered their plans for the Northern Meadows. This means the decision made today is based on incurred and inaccurate submissions to the planning committee, and the application must be rejected to avoid unacceptable harm to a nature reserve, SINC, and SSSI, increase air pollution, harm our cultural heritage, and remove this community from its only access to green space.
Join us and call for this permission to be rejected now by emailing your councillors, and watch the application be heard at committee here: https://fb.me/e/cNiyNLCws
24 hours was all it took to show we were correct in our recent letter to you.
1. Cardiff Planning pulled several applications from today’s agenda, so it really can be done at short notice.
2. Bat ecologists appeared yesterday around the Northern Meadows site, normally a precursor to work on site rapidly following. New Velindre is as bold as we said when it doesn’t yet have permissions. We didn’t over-dramatise.
3. Senedd [Petitions] Committee yesterday took Nuffield very seriously indeed. Regarding our petition it reported to us that ‘as a result of further detailed information’ it is writing the Minister for Health and Social Services and is:
· ‘requesting an update following the Nuffield advice to Velindre’ and ‘a timeline for further consideration of the business case’, and
· seeking a response to our further arguments ‘for a full independent review.’
4. It has emerged this week that Velindre has just changed their admissions policy, so that they will now have very few inpatients. There is now NO need for the 42 bed in patient unit proposed for the meadows, meaning the proposed development is fundamentally different from that permitted permission in 2017.
In other words, our warning to Councillors yesterday was indeed reliable. The last 24 hours raises a disturbing question in the public mind.
Why is Transforming Cancer Services pressing on with work at the Northern Meadows when, after Nuffield, everything’s changed beyond recognition and site-need assessment is back at square one?
A sceptical public will most likely choose its own answer to this conundrum from the following:
New Velindre thinks: “spend the money of taxpayer and possibly charity donors fast until it’s too embarrassing for authorities to turn back, Nuffield or not.”
New Velindre thinks: “the Planning Committee will never let us down after all this. We’re destined to get approval. The public already thinks planning is rigged so one more won’t make any difference.” New Velindre thinks: “the Minister is swamped with Covid 19, and the call-in will get neglected or pulled for a bit of peace.” This matter need not concern Councillors any longer. The Council merely needs to authorise the pulling of the Northern Meadows applications today. Then everyone can relax over Christmas and watch until the new future of Velindre emerges from Nuffield repercussions and the new site-needs assessment. Please act now. It is Cardiff’s environment and health.
I WRITE in response to the letter from Professor Mead (“ambulance figures were misleading”, Echo letters November 9), challenging some aspects of previous correspondence questioning the safety of the service model for the New Velindre Cancer Centre.
This appears to be a partial and selective response.
No-one disputes the need for a new build to allow the incredible work undertaken by the staff at Velindre to continue.
The issue we have raised as clinicians concerns the proposed model for the New Velindre. The current hospital Is on a stand-alone site, unsupported by the many specialities required to care for actuely unwell patients.
At the New Velindre, there will be no surgery, interventional radiology, intensive care, on-site expertise for medicine, cardiology, neurology, gastroenterology, gynaecology. All of these require transfer to another site before specialist treatment can commence.
To the casual reader, the figures for 2019 presented by Prof Mead appeared acceptable, with “only” 11 Red Calls, which are immediate life-threatening emergencies such as cardiac/respiratory arrest and choking.
She did not mention the 69 Amber One and Two calls in the 105 x 999 calls in 2019. (63 Amber One, six Amber Two). These are not routine transfers. These patients need urgent help not available at Velindre.
-Convulsion/fitting (continuous or multiple fits);
-Sick person (including not alert);
These were emergencies, in patients already sick due to the underlying illness that brought them to Velindre.
The idea of using the 999 system for routine transfers might be viewed as an abuse of the emergency system, denying patients in the community these vital resources.
Eighty times in 2019, Velindre needed to escalate care to an acute hospital via the 999 ambulance; 80 Red and Amber One and Two.
Similar figures were recorded for the preceding three years. The 25 Green calls using the 999 system may include patients transferred for treatment not available at Velindre.
The Trust has a duty to report any serious incidents to the Welsh Government. Prof Mead states:
“Over the past five years no serious incidents have been reported to the Welsh Government due to preventable deaths onsite relating to a delay in transfer to an acute hospital.”
The Freedom of Information inquiry included details of an unexpected death. Out of respect for the family, this will not be discussed to avoid distress.
The Trust stated in its FOI response:
“The case was not reported as a serious incident as it did not meet the threshold for reporting”
Is an unexpected death not a serious incident? What is the threshold for reporting an unexpected death at Velindre.
The trust also stated: “The organisation does not hold one overall system that collates all patient interventions and transfers. We can confirm patients are transferred to other acute hospitals for a range of interventions and the details are accessible by clinical staff in the individual patient record.”
There is no central database that collates the information for patients requiring escalation of care from Velindre to other units in South-East Wales. If Velindre NHS Trust does not know what is happening in the present, how can it plan the future?
How can it justify spending more than £200m on a new unit when it does not know what it needs to provide? The patients and staff deserve better.
If using the Cardiff Council portal you can just look around first as a guest:
Click Search > Planning > Simple_Search
To make an objection you must first register through any of the ‘register’ buttons. Not detailed or lengthy though have a password ready and expect to be asked for name, address & email address. They use this to inform you sometimes of significant developments on the application
Now you’re ready to go back and click on Comments or Document and you’re offered a page to write in.
Make sure you head it with and include the following:
To Mr Justin Jones
Planning number 20/01110/MJR
If applicable: “This Objection goes with my previously voiced objection to this application.”
‘I wish (now) to object to the application above, 20/01110/MJR. This is for the following reasons (what follows can be helpfully bullet pointed or numbered):
Text formatting features will be wasted, so no point in italics, bold or underlining.
Include the key concern:
‘I object’ on the grounds that one of the lodged documents has introduced a material change to the original application document 20/01110/MJR. It has applied for a new permanent road in an application clearly proposed as a: ‘Temporary Construction Access Route.’ It also included the promise that there would be no permanent access road except that already approved at the northern access point.
OPTIONAL CONTENT – pick and mix from one or more of the following plus your own brief take or impression (excluding abuse!):
In an additional document headed ‘New Velindre Cancer Centre Temporary Southern Construction Access Route, Section 3 – Enabling Works we read the following:
“The enabling works for the nVCC will create the new permanent access roads (via Asda to the North and Park Road from the SE)…” Park Road from the South East is elsewhere described as a temporary access.
The complete document is misleadingly entered in the Documents list as GIMS STATEMENT FINAL
The sentence above changes the nature of the entire application.
In fact it changes the nature of the original application in 2017 that was very clear on a single permanent access, namely from the north.
Promises to residents in the cursory consultation, accordingly, pledged that there would be no southern access route at all and now amended to say that no southern access route would be permanent.
Inserting a permanent route occurs quite deep: in a passage entitled Temporary Southern Access Route… inside a document called GIMS STATEMENT FINAL… found within an application for a Temporary Construction Access Route!
We do not feel the appointment of the Nuffield Trust to ‘advise’ Velindre on the nVCC model is near sufficient to address our concerns regarding the development. Here is the letter we have sent to politicians and the media regarding the chronic failings and inadequacies of the proposed model.
Dear Welsh Government Ministers and recipients,
Having campaigned since March for the duration of lockdown and now entering into a second lockdown; Save the Northern Meadows feel we must reaffirm and expand on our position regarding our petition ‘Hold anindependent inquiryinto the choice of site for the proposed new Velindre Cancer Centre’, as a result of the discussion and developments following the petitions committee meeting on the 15th of September.
Vaughan Gething, Health Minister failed to comply with his statutory duty to respond to the Petitions Committee promptly. There has been no explanation nor apology for this.
Velindre University NHS Trust failed to comply with the strict instructions provided for submissions to the committee. Despite the rigidity, we complied with the instructions, reducing hundreds of pages of information into just four. However the Trust felt sufficiently comfortable to violate these rules twice – submitting a 7 page letter to the committee for consideration, and attempting to sidetrack our request for an independent inquiryinto the choice of site, by submitting at 08:59 their decision to employ the Nuffield Trust to review and advise their model. This action was plainly deliberate, disingenuous and designed to distract, divert and undermine the Petition and the Committee. The outstanding arrogance of such an action as a public body, is insulting and must not be tolerated.
Our petition calls for an independent inquiry. The Trust in question has swiftly appointed the Nuffield Trust to advise. Nuffield shall be ‘advising on the clinical model.’ Whilst no question is being raised about this respected body’s capabilities and expertise to review and advise, to allow VCC to appoint its own adviser; over the Welsh Government appointing an independent inquiry is unacceptable. A body should be appointed independently of VCC, not commissioned by it, and a full inquiry conducted.
Our submissions provided evidence of multiple failures by the Trust. The attempt of the Trust to appoint their own reviewer is bizarre and reeks of malfeasance. Surely the time to seek advice has passed as:
Evidence from clinicians working at the Trust has been provided which casts significant doubt over the model of care proposed. During the consultations mentioned by the developers, these clinicians felt under pressure to support the nVCC. The Save the Northern Meadows campaign has helped these individuals to bravely come forward and voice their concerns. Yet those who have spoken out have been abused on social media. One Facebook group, organized by the wife of a member of Transforming Cancer Services whose very role is to push forward the development has claimed that the letters of concern are false, are not written by clinicians, and are “fake news”. The organizer even made a threat to report one doctor to the General Medical Council. The Trust has done nothing via social media to condemn the group’s inaccuracies, despite multiple individuals vilifying large numbers of NHS Doctors and attacking respected elected officials because they had the bravery to whistleblow.
There is evidence the Trust has lied repeatedly regarding the number of emergency transfers needed between VCC and UHW. They have stated this number is less than 30. We hold a freedom of information request which states this number is closer to 100. Why is the Trust lying about such a serious aspect of patient care?
There has been poor engagement by the Trust with the local community. Many local residents were wholly unaware of the applications until we raised awareness. The current pandemic and the closing of the local library made it very difficult for residents to find information, and by definition excluded those who did not have access to the internet.
The Trust makes inconsistent submissions to the planning department. For example, in 2017 they estimated that ‘low’ levels of damage shall be done to the local nature reserve. In 2020, their estimate changed to ‘high’. How can this be the case? It grossly undermines the accuracy and quality of their assessments. There are countless such examples.
The Trust claims the site is to promote the patient’s ‘healing experience’ and the counter-petition emphasised the ‘healing architecture.’ Yet no healing shall happen on site as there shall be no surgical unit. Further, there is significant evidence from 2014-17 which demonstrates the Trust pursued the site due to its potential for developing its educational qualifications and its brand with the addition of a Conference Centre – now named the Centre for Learning and Excellence. Yet in 2020, when building is about to start, the Trust cannot provide any details regarding what may or may not be included on this site. Why is this building with footprint this cost and size being blindly pursued when there is no architectural design, and no accurate projections for what shall actually be on site?
The Trust have purported to engage with local groups including friends of forest farm and local sporting clubs. These have turned out to be shams.Based on these ‘consultations’ planning documents mislead members of the planning committee into believing those groups support the development. This was highlighted in particular when Friends of Forest Farm found itself having to publicly correct a wholly false and misleading statement made by the Trust within their Green Infrastructure Management Plan for 2020 (three years after planning permission was granted), who claimed they ‘manage the Country Park, Glamorganshire Canal and the Longwood SSSI.’ We are meant to believe the processes for environmental protection envisaged are robust, as required by Welsh Legislation. Yet the Trust does not even know who manages these areas for nature conservation, demonstrating the farcical consideration of environmental issues by this public body and the planning department.
The Trust failed to give any, or any adequate consideration, to any brownfield sites, including the obvious location of Whitchurch Hospital and its grounds. Cadw were not engaged at the time regarding the possibilities of adapting or delisting Whitchurch Hospital. The £26.9 million granted for constructing access through a nature reserve could be spent better on acquiring a suitable site. Transforming, rebuilding and reusing a brownfield site would set Cardiff out as an innovative, strategic and forward thinking capital city, investing in expanding green infrastructure across the city. This can still be pursued. Although developers have argued relocating the project at this late stage would cause significant delays, the project director himself stated in 2017 that all the planning work would not have to be redone. Clinicians have also denied changing the site would result in damaging delays to service provision.
The Trust have failed to address the real risk of the development increasing flood risk to the houses bordering the Glamorganshire Canal, proposing surface water from the site should be drained into the canal via the nature reserve.
The Trust have spent £17million pound and ten years on their project so far, have accomplished very little, failing to address or even acknowledge the basic unanswered questions regarding the model of cancer care. Unmanaged spending is reflected by the purchase of ‘the Grange.’ £6 million was spent on acquiring the site, for it then to be disregarded and the meadows chosen for development – despite the Welsh Government’s statements VCC should use a site already owned by the NHS. No business case is available as publishing costs could prejudice the future of the site – because moving to the meadow shall cost significantly more than building on the Grange. Such flippant treatment of public funds should not be accepted or ignored. The very fact of this smacks of a vanity project. Why do they refuse to deal with this? They fail to acknowledge many other concerns raised by us, which shall be provided in Annex A below.
To allow the Trust to continue with their own ‘review’ of their own model would be a mockery of good governance and the future generations and Nolan Principles.
Why is the Trust afraid of an independent, external review even after six years of planning? If ‘advice’ is taken over an external independent inquiry and independent clinical review of the model, the Trust will continue to violate the Nolan Principles, harm the local community, harm nature, and harm the cancer care provided to future generations.
We call on Ministers to act decisively and urgently. The time to act is now.
Enabling work is due to start, and huge, eye watering sums of public money are at stake. We accept we urgently need updated cancer services. Damaging the long-term health of our community and our environment is not a sustainable way to achieve this. As well as local health and safety, hundreds of trees, bats, hedgehogs, grass snakes, red and amber listed birds and their habitats, among many others are in danger.
This very legislature voted to acknowledge the climate emergency. We know Cardiff may be under water in less than 30 years. Castle Street has been closed to try and reduce the increasing pollution. Earlier this year we saw appalling extreme flooding all through South Wales and Cardiff; are we to pretend this isn’t affecting us?
How much evidence, how many emergencies, how loud do we have to shout, how many protests do we have to organise before Ministers listen and understand we cannot afford this development to go ahead on this land?
As Cardiff enters its second lockdown, these facts are even more relevant. Should construction begin now, over two hundred households will be condemned to dust pollution from the construction site, pollution which shall continue for at least four years, likely causing life limiting illnesses within this community. There are no alternate green spaces or gardens for thiscommunity. However, there are plenty of alternative building sites. We know these were not adequately considered by the Health Board in the first place because of grandiose, ill-defined ambitions, and their only response is they want to build on the meadow as it is “healing”. This is an oxymoron. Beautiful, sensitive gardens can be built around a hospital on a brownfield site. Why use millions of pounds of public money to destroy them in the first place? Anindependent inquiry would provide a proper analysis of the finance as well as clinical considerations.
As a result of the above, our submissions to the petitions committee, our submissions to the planning committee of Cardiff Council, and the submissions made by the local and national clinicians questioning the proposed model of care, allowing Velindre University NHS Trust to continue to dictate the terms of its own review would constitute an utter violation of the principles of good governance and neglect the communities of Coryton, Whitchurch, Rhiwbina, Llandaff North and North Cardiff, as well as the wider medical and scientific communities in Wales.
We urge the Ministers to consider the health of present and future generations with the highest esteem, and with this in mind, commit to a truly independent inquiry into the choice of site of the new Velindre Cancer Centre.
The Save the Northern Meadows Team
nVCC has claimed repeatedly in publicity that 60% of the Northern Meadows will remain intact after the development. This simply can’t match nVCC’s own ground plan. Copied below and widely used by the media (see below). Strips of foliage around the development’s fringes is deceitful as dismembered foliage wouldn’t count as ‘meadow.’ Furthermore, across planning applications and meeting minutes, the assertion other sites are too small as they shall not allow for expansion demonstrates the building will certainly expand and encroach upon the nature reserve in future.
This image is also deceitful, as it appears to show the forest within the railway cutting between the Hollybush Estate and the new site shall remain intact, as does Lady Corey Field. This shall not be the case, as to construct the access bridge from Asda, construction vehicles must access the space below. Meaning the forested area shall almost completely be destroyed in the attempt to access the site.
Furthermore, Lady Corey Filed was given to the community by Lady Corey for recreational purposes only. The community has not given consent for the space to be used, yet the plans show the planting of two trees in the centre of the field (presumably as ‘mitigation’ for the 600 lost in the railway cutting) as well as the construction of pathways and a railway track through the area.
Yet MS Janet Finch-Saunders has called for a review regarding the impact of tree felling on flooding:
Wales should be the leader in preserving biodiversity, as envisioned by the Future Generations and Environment Acts, as well as the decision to declare a climate emergency. As a result of increases in flooding in the area – including flooding at the foot of the Glamorganshire canal – the decision to drain surface water into the canal (discharge of condition 17 on the planning portal) could exacerbate local flooding, as trees must be felled by the development.
At a time when the world has failed to meet ANY biodiversity targets, the destruction of a greenfield site by a Government purporting to care about climate change is laughable.
And we have seen calls for areas to be re-greened in order to help millions of people to access green areas. The meadow used to be an industrial site, and could demonstrate to the UK what re-greening takes.
Again, groups of volunteers are being held responsible for correcting VCC’s false assertions within their planning documents.
Annex E: Changing impact on the nature reserve
Identified within attached: Letter re Discharge of Conditions 10,13,14,16,17.
Annex G: Examples of Inconsistencies
Footnote 8 demonstrates how conditions set out by the Welsh Government never allowed the Trust to consider brownfield sites. Yet in public correspondence it is repeatedly stated brownfield sites were considered. This response was sent to a member of Save the Northern Meadows on the 22nd of September 2020:
I apologise for the time it has taken to respond to your email.
We do understand your concerns about the choice of location for the new centre.
We chose the northern meadows site because it will provide a much better experience for our patients. It will be much easier for them to get to because we know that three-quarters of our patients come from the M4 or down the A470. They will no longer have to travel into the village of Whitchurch. The site’s green outlook will also provide patients with a much better healing experience, contrasting with the current Velindre location.
Before selecting the site, we looked at other options including brownfield sites. None were suitable.
The Welsh Government funds the new Velindre Cancer Centre project, including public information. Whilst I appreciate that you may disagree with some of what we are saying, we are seeking to inform people so that they understand what we are proposing and why. We will continue to communicate with the local community throughout the project so that we can develop an amenity that works for everybody.
We are seeking to develop part of the site, not all of it, and we believe we can enhance it in many ways, including its biodiversity. We want to work with members of the community to make our ambitions a reality and I hope you will be prepared to have your say when we do this.
On behalf of David Powell,
The assertion only part of the site will be developed is also false. In many documents and communications from the Trust, it has been stated Whitchurch Hospital site is too small for development as there is no space for expansion – a statement refuted by Annex H.
Therefore, the community cannot trust the Trust will not expand to the whole of the meadow site as demand increases. Indeed, this is all the more possible as the Trust will be decreasing the number of hospital beds on site to 42.
From planning committee conditions page:
1. DESCRIPTION OF PROPOSED DEVELOPMENT
1.1 Outline permission is sought for a 42 bed cancer centre, conference/learning and research centres and Maggie’s Centre with associated infrastructure, including a double decked car park and energy centre.
Chapter 4 of the environmental statement
4.2.3 The new Velindre Cancer Centre will comprise a maximum 40,000 sq.m of gross internal floor area for Cancer health services (planning use classes: C2 Residential Institutions, and D1 Non-residential institutions). No surgical treatment will be undertaken at the centre, but space for the delivery of the following critical services will be provided: radiotherapy; chemotherapy; pharmacy; inpatient beds; outpatients services; support services; and imaging. A conference centre facility will also be provided.
4.2.6 The building will be between two and three storeys.
The assertion no surgical treatment will be undertaken at the centre voids the statement in the VCC response to the public that the meadows will provide the best ‘healing experience.’ Without a surgical unit no healing will take place at the site.
In addition, inconsistent messaging abounds regarding the conference centre mentioned in 1.1.
Below is an interview with Deputy Health Minister Julie Morgan.
Are there plans to build a conference centre as the wording in the planning application refers to this?
VELINDRE SAID: No, the ‘conference centre’ will be a ‘Centre for Collaborative Learning’.
5.4 in the above Planning Permission: The proposed site will also include a conference centre, which would be an integral part of the facility, with additional parking only being required for those attending a conference/event in the centre. Despite the reasonably sustainable nature of the location, with direct rail links to Cardiff Central railway station (via the half hourly service from the adjacent Coryton Station) it is considered that additional parking would still be required for those attending the facility.
This is not a minor change because it must have figured in the search for a particular size of site. It’s presumed in the floor space according to the Planning Permission.
Within the same Q&A, another inconsistency, and lie emerges as told by the Trust:
I’ve been told that the number of emergency calls to Velindre is higher than the 30 per year stated. Is this correct?
VELINDRE SAID: We treat tens of thousands of patients at the cancer centre every year and fewer than 30 patients a year on average need an unplanned emergency transfer. Of these 30 patients, fewer than 10 patients a year are critically unwell and have access to the Emergency Medical Retrieval and Transfer Service (EMRTs) who can assess, stabilise and transfer these unwell patients to the University Hospital of Wales (UHW). UHW is less than three miles away and can be reached within minutes. [ed. resorting to EMRTs to cloud the main point: 100 x 999 calls]. If the new cancer centre was on a large acute site, the size of the site could still mean that patients need an ambulance transfer.
The clinical team has a freedom of information request that clearly states these transfers are actually closer to 100 a year – nearly three times the numbers stated.
Planning applications are also periodically updated and changed, causing significant stress for the community.
For example – the community fought hard to secure a 9 month temporary access road via Park Road and into Whitchurch Hospital in 2017, of which they were reassured would be sufficient for the building work.
In 2020, this was proposed to be extended to 48 months by application 20/01110/MJR. Yet the community noticed in proposals for Whitchurch Hospital within application 20/00357/MJR, Park Road was a key access for new houses proposed.
Now it appears these fears have been confirmed, with doc 20_01110_MJR-201001_GIMS_STATEMENT_-_FINAL-2375378.pdf starting within the first paragraph of section 3 that this will now be a permanent access road. Yet as highlighted in many documents, the Trust stated this project will take traffic out of Whitchurch. They also repeatedly and categorically denied the temporary access road would become permanent in March of this year (see ‘engagement Chris Lines access rd). With this change, the Trust has finally demonstrated how little they care for the local community, or for basic honesty and the Nolan Principles.
Annex H: Cadw not engaged re use of Whitchurch Hospital
Please see attachment letter: FW/ Conference Centre and Cadw
Please see also ‘FW/ Whitchurch Hospital Cardiff Comms’ 1 and 2
Flooding and Drainage to Nature Reserve
Find images of flooding off of Forest Farm Road in February attached to email.
Discharge of Condition 17 relates to the proposal to drain surface water into the Glamorganishre Canal.
£17 million spent on a project with no architectural design, and no physical work completed over six years.
See attachment: Velindre FOI_TCC Budget CORP
No information available regarding actual site design, including conference centre:
(PDF Version attached: FW/ Conference Centre and Cadw)
“The Collaborative Centre for Learning, Technology and Innovation will contribute to the transformation of the way in which care is planned, organised and delivered across south east Wales.
We do not have any detailed plans for the centre at the moment but we are not planning for a separate building. We estimate it would need about 350m2 of space within the new cancer centre.
As such, I cannot say how many meeting rooms it will hold and what capacity they have and what hospitality facilities it may need. So, the answers to your questions are:
What is proposed capacity?
It’s too early to say.
How many conference rooms will be involved?
It’s too early to say.
3. Does it include accommodation?
No, it won’t.
Does it include hospitality facilities including a bar?
There may be a need for some hospitality facilities but we will not want a bar.
How many car going spaces are attached to it?
We have parking spaces for 43 visitors to the cancer centre and this will include visitors to the Collaborative Centre.
How many staff needed, how much parking spaces will they require?
We do not have plans at the moment to recruit additional staff for the Collaborative Centre. We will accommodate any staff parking within the limits set of our planning permission.”
Footnotes were removed by formatting. Key footnote information is below:
View the increase in submissions against application 20/00357/MJR following mid May. On May 22nd, Tessa HM posted the application link to the Save the Northern Meadows facebook group. Following this, over 50 objections were raised, and MS Julie Morgan and MP Anna McMorrin now agree the application should not proceed. Many who used the meadow daily were not aware of the development, even in March 2020.
The project is estimated to cost around £218 million under the MIM model, which could see the public pay back up to four times what was initially spent. This sum does not include the – estimated – £26.9 million for enabling works.
I made an attempt to tell my story on the ‘support velindre’ fb group and on the Velindre official page, as we in STNM are constantly being told – ‘don’t comment unless you’ve experienced cancer’. It appears both have been removed or are very well hidden. Here it is – please do share if you want to.
I am a cancer patient of Velindre. Here’s my story.
Two years ago i was diagnosed with breast cancer at Llandough Breast Centre. I had so many biopsies, scans, blood tests and information in that first 6 weeks, I was a complete mess, physically and emotionally. Then came the lymph node biopsy surgery. And yes, the cancer was there too.
So it was onto 15 weeks of chemo at Velindre. I had two visits to UHWH during for emergency treatment for infections. I also had psychiatric sessions at LLandough, with a specialist breast nurse consultant, when I wanted to die. Six weeks to recover and then I was back to Llandough for surgery – a unilateral mastectomy and full sentinel lymph clearance. No reconstruction was possible then as after another six weeks of recovery, I started radiation therapy, again at Velindre. Physiotherapy during all this was via the breast centre and also at Velindre. I still visit the lymphodoema clinic at Cardiff Infirmary.
I am on Tamoxifen chemical therapy for 10 years. This put me into total menopause, causing uncontrollable sweats, chronic joint pain, agonising leg cramps, endometrial polyps, mood swings, anxiety and massive fatigue. I have not been able to have reconstruction yet, at Morriston Swansea, because of Covid-19.
So, that’s my cancer story. . . Only it doesn’t end there.
This week I have been back to UHWH for a nuclear bone scan, followed by an x-ray – as there is something amiss. Now I have the wait again.
The anxiety of a diagnosis and the treatment decisions that follow.
The night before my scan appointment, I walked from my little flat, along the shady wooded path, across the meadow fields, where I then lay. I listened to the breeze in the trees and the birds, happily unaware of my anxiety. Being in nature always calms. . . except now I have a greater anxiety than the needles I would be facing and the claustrophobic scan to come the next day.
That anxiety is that this wonderful, wild and special place may be lost to a development – for a place where I may end up being treated again. Do I want that here on the meadow, more than to be able to sit beneath these ancient oaks and watch majestic herons? No. Throughout my treatment, I walked and cycled to my treatments and out in nature whenever I could, sometimes with help, taking in natural surroundings, seeing a bigger picture of life.
This is not where the new cancer centre should go. There are other sites. There are other ways. Nature and our environment is our life support system. It is more important than my life – than any one person’s life – it is about our survival as a race on a planet in crisis. It is about my unborn grandchild having air it can breathe, wild woodland to play in, and better health. Because we and those in power, stopped ignoring the climate emergency and took the drastic actions that are required to avert unprecedented disasters affecting our children’s futures.
I am like you – my life altered forever by cancer. And like you I have a right to stand up for my beliefs without being bullied, called awful names and had cancer wished upon me and my family. I’ve even seen it suggested that I should not be allowed treatment at velindre because I want the meadows saved. This has come from the people organising and speaking on this ‘caring’ group, who who profess to care about and support cancer patients.
The anxiety I have suffered during this time of uncertainty about my life has been debilitating.
If you are interested in the people, reasons and facts behind the Save the Meadows campaign, please take 5 minutes to read this post. We are just like you. People. with Cancer in our lives, and love in our hearts.
Back on the 19th June we wrote an open letter asking for the Welsh Government to ‘call-in’ development of the Northern Meadows, something that’s been a shadow over our community for the last 20 years. Supported by many organisations and key individuals, we are still waiting for a reply.
What kind of people are we? The answer is: we are the same as you – human.
We are not a special breed of person unaffected by cancer or not fearing what it could do to us or to our loved ones. We are not immune to its grasp. Cancer does notdiscriminate. Some of us are patients too, some have, or are currently supportingloved ones through treatment. Others of us have sadly lost people to this awful disease. Many of us have experienced the agonising wait for results for ourselves or the people we love. We have had the sleepless nights and feared the worst. Some of us have received devastating news and taken the long and agonising journey that is cancer. Others of us have been fortunate to receive good news at that point; whilst knowing that any one of us may not be so lucky next time. We are no different from you.
So of course we’ve never opposed better cancer care. When it is told that we’reopposing the development of the centre, we urge people to not simply accept this and react with rage or despair without further thought or question. It would be nonsensical not to want better cancer care. Still, we have seen post after post on social media reporting such errors about us, as “if they’d ever gone through this they wouldn’t be objecting;” “if it was their family;”“I hope they never need Velindre’sservices” and more cruel posts, stating that anyone who wants a review or disagrees with the site should forfeit any future care and so should their families.
The issues that brought STNM about were those of protecting the environment and doing what is right for the community both local and much wider. This campaign indeed began as an environmental and public health campaign: a campaign to protect the health, safety and wellbeing of thousands of local people and to object to the over-development of Whitchurch – a densely populated community, already subjected to high levels of air pollution due to being positioned adjacent to the M4, the A470 and Coryton roundabout – one of the busiest roundabouts in Wales, and to frequently congested roads and queuing traffic. We also wanted to see the abandoned, listed Whitchurch Hospital put to use once again.
Now the campaign has adopted pursuit of the right medical model for the new Velindre. Any campaign point here is never about the staff team on the ground working at Velindre now, the ones the nation has applauded every Thursday. It is the Transforming Cancer Services plans and the best location for the future cancer care centre.
We are not NIMBYs – we have happily lived alongside Velindre and Whitchurch Hospitals for decades and we aspired to have the new Velindre Cancer Centre housed on the Whitchurch Hospital site. The NIMBY label simply does not fit here.
All this is important to say.
We are aware some people have been offended by our campaign. This is an emotive topic which inevitably causes distress. But the distress to those under the weight of cancer might only be increased by angry posts they see on social media, demonising and scapegoating others. This has been, and continues to be, exacerbated by the misrepresentation of our campaign by another online group. This group’s narrative has sought to create a division between the campaigners and Velindre.
For one Facebook group has repeatedly accepted comments from followers, like, “It beggars belief;” “What sort of people are they?;” “They can’t ever have been touched by cancer,” and its moderators seem to do very little to correct this narrative. In fact, this opinion is frequently encouraged by moderators who reply with a knowing response or with an acknowledging emoji. The misinformation spreads, misunderstandings are soon legitimised and then the divisions widen.
Shocking myths told about STNM
It’s important to STNM’s integrity and truthfulness with the public that urban myths about us are challenged. STNM was astonished during the summer at the narrative flowing from a social media site opposed to our campaign. It claimed that Velindrestaff had been “abused” and “shouted at” and created the image that staff needed to be protected from campaigners. There was even a most serious accusation made on the site that a member of staff was spat at by one of our supporters. The Facebook group’s founders claimed that this matter was being dealt with by senior managers.
Here’s why none of this can be true. Abuse of a front-line worker is a criminal offence and Velindre has a duty of care to their staff to report this to the police. But no crime number exists for this alleged attack. We would welcome evidence of these alleged abuses as we deplore any such behaviour. Any such wrongdoers certainly do not speak or act in our name.
On the contrary, Velindre staff members have come to speak to us on the street at our STNM display stands and have chosen to share with us that they work at Velindre.
Would they do this if they felt threatened and scared by us? A number have signed our petitions and tell us that many staff members at Velindre disagree with the current proposals but are afraid to speak out for fear of losing their jobs or having to endure a difficult work life. Of course, some we have spoken with are in support of the development and we have respectfully and calmly been able to share our differing viewpoints with one another, without incident, anger of fear.
These staff members we have met in the community have also told us that Velindre’s day-to-day running and work are quite separate from the Transforming Cancer Services project, who are proposing this build. A number have said that they do not really know much about it and staff have not really been consulted or kept informed.
It is fantastic to read online about how the staff team at Velindre are valued and have provided comfort to so many at the most incredibly difficult and frightening times a person may face. However, nobody we know has ever suggested otherwise.
A group online has managed to mould a narrative that staff and the incredible work happening at Velindre is being challenged or devalued by our campaign. And in hearing this, rightly so, people are jumping to their defence. This could not be further from the truth. As we have said above, the questions asked of the Transforming Cancer Services project must to be distinguished from the great day to day staff and work at Velindre.
Sad to say, misinformation about us is extreme. We have been accused of being liars countless times. Of “dirty tactics” and “low blows.” We have absolutely no need or desire to lie. Apparently we have made things up about the car parking, the HGV lorry journeys, the number of beds and the damage to the environment. However, all these facts are visible in the planning and other documents which are in the public domain.
We were accused of “lying” being “low”, being “sad” when we advised that we had contacted the Police and Velindre in relation to threatening posts against a permitted march in September that STNM joined with 20 other recognised groups. We did not lie. Threats really were made on a Facebook group and we had a duty of care to report them. To their credit, Velindre replied to say they “deplored the comments made.” That email is not a secret. It will be made available on our website.
All the same we were called “pathetic” and told we were “wasting police time” etc. The vitriolic response online to the march by some was quite shocking. The language of many was highly inappropriate, yet seemingly condoned by moderatorsof the same online group. We do not know the people who made the serious threats and so we had no way of knowing if these words could actually turn into actions. Furthermore, the aggression and hatred aimed at us was visible to thousands of members of that group and so could incite somebody else to action.
The same group has multiple posts and comments vilifying us. Screenshots can validate all of the following comments posted in just the last two weeks alone on the offending Facebook site:
We “have shite for brains; are onlyworried about our house prices; leadcosy lives, are unaffected by cancer; only want land to walk our dogs on; spread misinformation; We are “tossers; uncaring; thoughtless; selfish; pathetic tree hugging smelly hippie dippie freaking weirdos; absolutely pathetic; shameful; a bunch of morons; Covidiots; vile people; embarrassing; childish; snakes in the grass; insignificant people; bitter; miserable; lacking integrity; liars; low; sad; heartless; NIMBYs; idiots; a load of fools; riddled with bitter (sic); absolute cretin; lonely; putting selfishness over lives; attention seeking hypocrites; infantile; quasi environmentalists; the most selfish group ever; selfish people who would soon jump sides if we or loved ones had cancer; pools of germs spreading people.”
We have been mocked, ridiculed and threatened. In amongst all this a member of the same site has called us “bullies.” This is all mixed in together with so much negativity, hatred and vindictiveness, and it is really sad to see how some – a minority – can speak about other human beings, without ever having met them and more seriously, often without having the full account of what this is all about.
However, it’s evident that patients, former patients, family and friends need an avenue to share experiences and support one another. Personal stories shared even on the online group critical of us are inspiring, brave and heartfelt. It is truly an awful illness which devastates families, and none of us have had the privilege of avoiding it. We want to extend our heartfelt sympathies to you and your family, and to all those who have experienced the devastation of cancer. Many of us share these experiences with you.
Some have suggested we lack integrity, humanity and compassion but when we are being called these terrible names, we invite consideration from those posting, of the impact of their words, and reflection on the vitriol aimed at fellow human beings. These may be people who share similar experiences, or who are grieving, unused to conflict and encountering such hatred. Also those who are elderly, vulnerable or unwell. Such venom can be triggering for those who have experienced past trauma or abuse. It is unkind, cruel and unnecessary.
Despite allegations to the contrary, we welcome debate. Our group is public for this reason.
Often when groups are private, we notice debate is not always welcomed. Just to ask a question or diverge from the strict narrative can result in blocking and the offending post being quickly deleted. Before making a decision and being wholeheartedly in favour of something, it’s crucial to have a rounded view of the facts.
STNM’s Local Concerns
The facts definitely missing from certain social media posts are what drive the STNM campaign. These include:
This development will have a significant impact on the everyday lives of the thousands of people who live and access this area daily. Our critics should be aware that there is a primary school, sheltered accommodation and a block of flats on the Hollybush Estate metres away from where the emergency access road will be constructed. Vulnerable and elderly people are housed here, many with multiple health issues, as well as families with young children.
Critics should also be aware a residential school for children and young people with severe autism backs onto the development. This means any noise from the construction and operation of the site shall permanently impact their education and care. Daily, pupils from this school are seen going for walks along Pendwyallt Road with support staff to assist them and ensure they remain safe. They also use the meadows and railway cutting for outdoor education, recreation and wellbeing. It must be a difficult and agonising decision for a parent to send a child with special needs to a residential setting and we imagine that the access their children have to green space and tranquillity within a city setting plays an important part in their decision making. This will no longer be accessible to them. The school has also opposed the build on the meadows site due to concerns for their pupils.
In order to reduce collisions with cyclists, the developers will remove guardrails from Pendwyallt Road, putting the children and pedestrians accessing school, Asda, or just going for a walk at risk with up to 200 HGV journeys on this road every day to and from the construction site. One such guardrail is outside one of the primary school’s entrances and on the corner of Whitworth Square where hundreds of people live. These guardrails are essential. This would be a tragedy waiting to happen.
The emergency access road will run directly through the estate and past sheltered accommodation, and along a route walked by nursery and primary school children. Children also play outside their flats along this route. They do not have gardens. This clearly presents a risk to the community.
For the hundreds of flats on the Hollybush estate the meadows are their only access to green space. Consider how much cancer and other life-limiting illness will be caused to these people by exposure to the construction pollution for over four years. The harm to their wellbeing and mental health at having to endure such a massive project on their doorsteps. And the permanent additional pollution and loss of green space and trees which currently clean the dirty air emitted from junction 32. It is proven that pollution can impact negatively on a child’s development. What about pregnant women? Those raising families? Those who attend school next door to the development? Those living with respiratory and other conditions? Those who are elderly? These are people too, and they absolutely deserve a say in this, as we all do.
The meadows are surrounded on 3 sides by Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and nature reserve. Throughout the planning process developers have stated that impacts on these important sites will be “negligible”; will be “low”. The Environmental Statement released a few weeks ago now states that the impact will be “high”. Further documents released in August propose draining surface water during construction into the canal and feeder river below. Not only will this destroy biodiversity and do irreparable harm to the SSSI and nature reserve but it is adding to the flood risk.
A number of homes adjacent to the canal and along the river were flooded earlier this year. In February we saw the river break its banks in a number of locations. Flooding devastates lives and is a public health emergency. People can lose lives and lose everything they have ever worked for. We all saw, in February this year, the devastation to people’s homes and livelihoods and the big clean-up operations of communal, community spaces, such as Hailey Park, Bute Park, Treforest and Nantgarw, to just use some examples. The meadows and trees do a job in absorbing and diverting water. When we continue to concrete over our green spaces, we are increasing our flood risk significantly. We cannot simply sit back and allow a development to go ahead on this site when it will increase the flood risk to us all.
We are living in a climate emergency.
This was declared by both Cardiff Council and the Welsh Government in 2019. As the original planning is so old it is not being scrutinised based on our current legislation and policy. It ignores, breaches and disregards the following:
Wellbeing of Future Generations Act 2015
The Environment (Wales) Act 2016
The Historic Environment (Wales) Act 2016
The Convention on Biological Diversity (1992)
United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (1991; enshrined in Welsh Law 2011)
Planning Policy Wales 10 (2018) and Building Better Places (2020)
The plans do not appear within Cardiff’s Local Development Plan (2006-2026)
Our Strategic Plan 2019-2022 Public Health Wales
Millions are spent each year by Cardiff Council and the Welsh Government in creating these policies and pieces of legislation. If they are then ignored, what is the point in them in the first place?
We mention here the accusation made against us, that we are only now questioning the medical model because we want to save the meadow. It has also been insinuated that letter received by Welsh Government and the BBC was sent by the campaign, and questions have been asked about the “so called experts.”
We would like to set the record straight. The STNM campaign is largely made up of Cardiff residents and others further afield who know the meadows well. No, we are not run by Extinction Rebellion as has been suggested.
Aside from the two doctors (who are also local residents) who have been brave enough to step forward and speak out and frankly have been subject to disgraceful responses for doing so; the campaign has had no other contact with the medical professionals involved in the letters sent. We understand that 57 medical professionals have written to the Welsh Government and 34 staff members at Velindre have written to the Cardiff and Vale University Health Board (CAVUHB) Chief Executive, to raise concern over the proposed model and plans. We heard the Radio Wales interview with a third, senior doctor but we have never spoken with that clinician.
Critics are asked to take a minute to consider whether these medical professionals would put their reputations and careers on the line by speaking out, simply because the STNM campaign had influenced them to do so? The campaign does not know who these people are and we have not seen the letters sent. Nor do we expect or need to. But we are hugely grateful for each and every one of them who has taken the brave step in raising their concerns with decision makers.
The quest by some, to discover their names, is wholly inappropriate. There are laws in place to protect people who speak out and this should be respected. The Welsh Government and CAVUHB Chief Executive have the names and will be aware of their roles and qualifications. That is what is important here.
The Bigger Picture
Additionally, many people are only aware of part of the picture. This whole matter is part of a wider master plan – with the meadows used for the cancer centre, Whitchurch and Velindre are prime sites for lucrative, executive housing and other uses. Cardiff and Vale Health Board have been renewing the planning consent on the Whitchurch Hospital site for over 20 years, all the while never bringing any of these plans to fruition and allowing a listed building to rot. Affordable housing within these plans has decreased as the years have passed. Their renewal in 2016 stated up to 40% affordable housing and by 2020’s renewal this has decreased to a maximum of 20%.
They propose hundreds of apartments and houses, thousands of square metres of office space and retails units. Given our “new-normal” will these offices be utilised? New retail and hospitality outlets here would put immense pressure on many of the small, independent businesses in Whitchurch Village and likely result in closures. Many of these businesses are just keeping their heads above water post-covid. There are no plans for additional GP services or school places.
Some members of a group opposing us say we are heartless, selfish and lack compassion but this simply is not true. As well as cancer, people face other challenges daily, other serious health issues, other life-limiting illnesses and other life-changing events.We all have a right to a quality of life. Critics should not disregard or forget about them. Cancer is devastating, all-consuming and overwhelming and so are other difficulties experienced by people.
As the campaign grew, we learned more from medical professionals who contacted us. This is why our narrative has moved away from siting the new centre on the Whitchurch Hospital site. It is not because we are “hypocrites” “can’t make up our minds” or are “grasping at straws”.
Clinicians and medical experts from all over the country have come forward to tell us the model proposed by Transforming Cancer Services on the meadow is clinically unsafe. The model proposed is an ‘archaic’ form of care. That is not to say that what Velindre has been doing for decades has been wrong. It is saying that as cancer care evolves the services and models of care need to as well. And although yes, it is desirable to have a new cancer centre as soon as possible, it is completely undesirable and unacceptable to have a large expensive cancer centre placed on a greenfield site, when it may not be able to offer the best, most up to date care available.
In fact, this model is out of date before it is built.
Although we understand the fears of being treated in a larger hospital, having the new Velindre placed on site would not mean patients would have to mix with others throughout the hospital, and could remain in a self-contained space purely for Velindre. In case of emergencies, this unit would then be in the right place to quickly assess, treat and possibly transfer patients with complications, which are common during the treatment of cancer. As UHW shall undergo a large renovation starting in 2023 the assertion our campaign shall add 10 – 15 years to the start date is false. Indeed, the Transforming Cancer Services own website states it shall add 2 years only to the development. Although frustrating, this would ensure we have 60 + years of the best care, rather than 60+ years of old fashioned care.
Surely patients and families want the best care possible for everyone. It is in this spirit that we demand an External Independent Clinical Enquiry into the choice of siteand medical model. If the model is inappropriate and outdated, then the care provided to patients will be also. That is unacceptable for all of us.
And just to reiterate and make clear our position on the Whitchurch Hospital issue:
IF, following an independent review it is deemed that a stand-alone centre is in fact the best option, then we would continue to campaign that the Whitchurch Hospital and existing Velindre Hospital sites are used. Not the meadows.
Accessible pathways can easily run from the old hospital sites up to the meadows. The same healing and tranquil benefits will be available to all – patients, families,staff and the wider community; without the massive cost to taxpayers for the construction of bridges and the devastating destruction of the meadows and by proximity, significant damage to the biodiversity of the nature reserve below.
When first built, Whitchurch Hospital had beautiful grounds and gardens which were considered forward-thinking at the time, as the hospital was designed to aid the healing of patients through having access to green space. The meadows were also used to grow produce for the hospital kitchen and as rehabilitation for patients, and so there is precedent set – patients have accessed the meadow space from the existing Whitchurch Hospital site in the past. There is no reason why this cannot be done again.
Those in opposition to saving the meadows talk of Whitchurch Hospital being a listedbuilding (and wrongly say it cannot be touched because of this) and it is too small. The site is actually bigger than the meadows, especially if you incorporate the existing Velindre site too. Yes, it is listed, yet is being left to rot and be to vandalised. Last year alone the health board spent over £412,000 on security fencing, lighting and cameras for this abandoned site. That is heading towards half a million pounds which could be used elsewhere. It is criminal that this site has been left in this condition for so many years.
Furthermore, architects regularly do incredible things in merging new with old buildings – in honouring the past whilst achieving what is needed for the future. Little consideration and research has been done on this. There is a grand theatre in Whitchurch Hospital which, if modernised, could lend itself to a conference centre as is included in the proposed plans for the new cancer centre. Cadw has not been involved in discussion about the possibilities and potential for restoration and adaption. The report released on the suitability of the Whitchurch Hospital site was actually completed in June of this year, following pressure from our campaign. It was never, ever given real, in-depth consideration. This is because it comes down to profit and lucrative housing.
Nobody is trying to deny cancer patients a meadow and beautiful surroundings, if the current model of care was given the ahead. This has been our message all along:
WE CAN HAVE BOTH.
The use of Mutual Investment Model (MIM) to fund it, the impact on the community and the environment, and the lack of transparency in decision making all leads us to ask questions. We believe the model proposed is not fit for purpose, and will actually harm present and future generations. So we are asking that the location and many other aspects of the model are re-examined.
We want the best care for us and for future generations, and if there is any question the new site cannot provide this, then it is our duty as a community to question it. We should not accept something so wildly expensive and important if there is any doubt about the quality of care it could provide.
We demand an External Independent Clinical Enquiry into the site and medical model to ensure the best for us all.
We ask critics to consider we have also had family, friends, colleagues, and children treated by Velindre. Some of our members have also been treated there. Our page is open and transparent. People are welcome to speak with us and we had hoped supporters and those in opposition alike could discuss together, respectfully.
We have seen many comments online stating, “Lives over leaves” and “Lives over lawns.” Our health – mentally and physically – is directly connected to nature and to the environment. We cannot separate them and choose one over the other. We are one and the same. We need to respect and nurture our environment better. That is a fact.
Some are quick to raise awareness of fires burning the Amazon, in California, in Australia. But when it comes to at home conservation we are called crazy hippies who need to get over it.
Unfortunately, the global climate is interconnected and what happens to wildlife and natural spaces in your local area has implications worldwide. That is the nature of the climate emergency. And that is why we have to act locally, as well as working with other communities to influence how our state acts globally.
We have to all accept responsibility in playing our part to preserve the planet, protect one another and help ensure the future health and wellbeing of generations to come.
Social media comments have tried to devalue and weaken our connection to the meadows by saying that we named it the Northern Meadows at the start of lockdown and most people didn’t know it was there before. It is correct that many more people discovered this area during the lockdown and that is fantastic. It provided a good space, with social distancing and supported the mental and physical health of thousands throughout the period when we could only go out once a day and had to stay local. Why should that be mocked or criticised?
It is also true that not all of us called it the Northern Meadows. Some did and others called it “top fields”, “fields above the canal” and we are sure a number of other names too. The name makes no difference to the experience.
For many of us, we and our families have used this space for decades.
We have taken our children, walked our dogs, had our first encounters with nature there. We have sledged in the snow, we have had picnics, we have explored as children, our teachers have sent us here as part of the cross-country route during PE. We have headed there for fitness, for fresh air and for tranquillity. We have had happy times with family and friends there and we have sought this space in the most difficult of times when we needed solace and a space for contemplation. Nature is powerful and healing.
Most significantly in this situation we do not need to choose one over the other.
WE CAN HAVE BOTH.
YES to Velindre. No to meadows’ destruction.
Our health. Our future.
This is an overview of what we stand for. Please look at our Facebook page and website, or join our Facebook group if you would like to know more.
We all agree Velindre Cancer Centre and their staff do fantastic work. However, it is limited in patient safety by the stand alone centre model. We have heard from people who have been treated for cancer, as well as those who have cared for family and friends with the disease, about how frustrating, stressful, and traumatising the need to wait for a transfer to an appropriate facility can be. And we have heard of the devastating impact a wait for transfer can have on patients. Some have lost their lives waiting for transfers.
So, we ask why is this model of care being pursued if it causes distress and harm to patients? Many have told us it is the staff, and not the site which provides them with the healing experience. So why is this model being pursued, against all medical evidence and reports available from as recently as 2019?
Below are the facts of the matter, taken from the Enquiry Visit to Beatson West of Scotland Cancer Centre (2015), and the Mount Vernon Cancer Centre Strategic Reviews (2019). ✅
Recent independent reviews of cancer centres elsewhere in the UK have not supported the stand alone isolated units, but instead recommend co-location of the cancer centre on an acute hospital site. The clinical experience of cancer centres such as Mount Vernon, Clatterbridge and Beatson units, tells us that a stand alone, isolated unit is outdated and clinically unsafe. Patients with cancer are already sick, and many of the modern chemotherapy and immunotherapy treatments can make them a lot sicker very quickly.
Chemotherapy and immunotherapy are not without side effects and risk. When this happens the patients need immediate treatment and support. In the new modern integrated units this care is onsite, and immediately available as delays can adversely effect the final outcome.
Ambulance transfers are not themselves without risk, and whilst the EMRTS flying doctors can assist, their availability is not guaranteed, and travelling from their base near Llanelli adds a considerable delay.
Added to this is the significant number of patients that need to be transferred for urgent treatment that is not an immediate life threatening emergency. These patients may need surgery, interventional radiology, like stenting procedures, or medical input. These transfers are unpleasant for the patient and disrupt their cancer care.
All the evidence available supports integrated care, and refutes the stand alone model. ✅
The new Velindre Cancer Centre needs a robust up to date independent clinical review if it wishes to proceed as a model refuting all evidence. Yet Transforming Cancer Services and Velindre Trust have failed to produce a report vindicating the model, meaning there is no evidence this model will provide the best care for cancer patients in South Wales.
Despite this being a commitment of over £200 million, to date no truly independent clinical review has been undertaken to see whether the proposed stand alone model is safe or appropriate for the needs of patients and staff alike.
⚠️ Therefore, it is a matter of urgency this review must be conducted before building starts ⚠️
Surely we all want what’s best for patients – and patients shouldn’t have to accept an archaic and outdated model of care because decision makers are afraid to change their minds when dissenting evidence comes to light. ✅
There are plans for the redevelopment of Heath Hospital in the works right now. Velindre must accept this is an out of date model of care. The community will never accept the hospital on the meadow because of the negative, long term impact on the care of present and future generations, as well as the destruction it will bring to local ecosystems and community health via air pollution, destruction of our green space, and the potential for the site to increase flooding in the local area. The sooner care is integrated to the new Heath proposal, the sooner cancer patients in Wales get the excellent level of care they deserve.
Finally, the Beatson model of care was viewed to put patients ‘at risk’. We want to ensure patients face the least risk possible when accessing their care. If this model does not provide the safest form of care for patients, and it won’t take over a decade to change the plans, why is it still being pursued? ❓❓
A huge thank you to Lee from Child Friendly Cardiff who came to speak to the children on the meadow today.
They all spoke so well about their views on how they can be consulted and their views considered.
Thank you to everyone who was able to join with Emily this afternoon – you were wonderful.
Going forward – Lee Will now seek ways the Health board and Education can provide appropriate channels for them and others in the local area to be informed of the developments and to collate their views.
Accusations of bullying and harassment have been levied against our campaign and our members. As a result, we’ve written some rules for members to follow, which are at the bottom of this post. We also strongly suggest anyone who has been the victim of bullying or harassment report it to the police. We agree that matters have become hostile over the last few months, and campaign members and supporters of Velindre – all volunteers – have become frustrated at times. This has led to conflict and heated conversation in the comments section. We strongly disagree that such comments amount to bullying or harassment. Yes, the discussion has been poor at times. Yes, both sides have struggled with misinformation and inaccuracies because the planning application is literally hundreds of documents, and no actual plan has even been released for the design of the centre yet. Often these issues are being boiled down to a single comment. A nuanced discussion of the issue is almost impossible on social media. But disagreement and conflict do not amount to harassment or bullying.
We contend that supporters levying these accusations have not been perfect in their discourse, and have left many of our supporters feeling targeted and harassed too. We strongly deny any legitimate supporters of the campaign would harass staff or patients of Velindre. These accusations are untrue and grossly misrepresent the campaign and our aims. We have always emphasised working together to find a solution that works for everyone for the new Velindre Cancer Centre. We have worked with staff, clinicians, patients, and family members to ensure we are as respectable as possible in our discussion.If anyone is a victim of harassment, we extend our apologies and invite a conversation with you to identify what happened and who is responsible.
Anyone who is using intimidation to spread our message is not a legitimate member of the campaign and is certainly not involved in running this page.We would welcome a process of discussion and reconciliation to move forward together. We have always said we want to work together to find a solution that would let us save nature AND have excellent cancer care in South Wales. Our research indicates this was never considered by planners.
We have always been an intersectional campaign run by volunteers directly for members of the community who never had an opportunity to speak up in 2017. We have always been clear that community consultation is one of the most important aspects of the planning process, and our exclusion in 2017 means this is now our last chance to democratically voice our concerns. We welcome the formation of the group of supporters. We hope by looking at the planning applications and doing further research supporters will also begin to recognise the significant problems with the plans as they are. We accept we don’t always get it right. We hope you can be patient with us as we are all volunteers using our free time to stand for the meadows and our local community. We strongly believe we can save the meadows AND have excellent cancer care in South Wales. It is simply a lie that we don’t have enough space and we have to choose between them. We hope that our work can help secure the best cancer care for the people of South Wales, and ensure the nVCC is the best form it can be. We accept it is a difficult and emotive conversation and is always looking to improve our communication and discussions. We ask community members opposing our campaign to do the same.
We have all been affected by cancer in one way or another. Members of our group have been through hell because of it. Many of them and their families have also been treated at Velindre, and have praised the incredible staff.We want to be clear no one is targeting the staff or patients at Velindre. We extend our heartfelt apologies if staff or patients have been hurt by the campaign, or if the campaign has caused you any distress. We would like to hear from you publicly or in confidence to find out how we can do better.
Finally, we will mention a few rules we believe can help prevent accusations from emerging in future. If any discussion breaches the rules we will take it down. If anyone is causing any issues please raise them with this page or the group admins.
Be kind, courteous, respectful. Don’t engage in personal attacks.
Don’t directly message anyone you are speaking to in the comments.
Don’t share screenshots of messages from individuals publicly without covering their name and photo. This could instigate further targeting of this individual and make you a harasser.
Don’t spend to much time on here. Facebook comments never changed anyone’s mind.
Tess and the Team
Save the Northern MeadowsYes to Velindre, No to meadows development.
We want to note the dismissive, distorting language used by the board in relation to our campaign. It demonstrates how little they have tried to work with us and the community. It shows they don’t understand – or don’t care – why we have come together in our thousands to try and save the meadows.
Many of us have used the meadows for years, if not decades. Yes, some people did discover the meadow during lockdown. But that doesn’t make their contribution any less valuable than if they had been walking there for years.
We are clear in the fact if people had discovered the site or not, it would still have been a significant community asset for mental health, wellbeing, the environment, sports, and recreation.
The Board also sees us as perpetrators of misinformation in the community. Therefore I would like to challenge the board to provide the business case for the new hospital to the public. We want to be clear on what exactly you want to do to the meadow, so we can keep the community informed.
I want to note this is actually VCC’s job as the developers. And it is yet another developmental failure that the onus is on a campaign run by volunteers to give the community the information they need.
We would also hope a public body would be truthful in its planning applications. But when new applications are submitted, changes and discrepancies appear.
Our clearest example is the estimated effect of building on forest farm. At planning in 2017, these were stated to be minimal. Now the area is facing medium to high levels of air, noise, and light pollution.
How are community volunteers – and not influencers by any extent (although we are flattered) – meant to provide accurate information when:
1️⃣ The information shared by the public body is distorted or false;
2️⃣ The community is given three weeks to analyse planning applications, of hundreds of pages and documents, as well as raising awareness of the issues in the community and objecting along legal lines;
3️⃣ Many in the community weren’t even aware the development was happening in the first place, despite living in close proximity to the site, a clear failure in communication and engagement.
As community members who will have to live with the development, construction, and operation for the rest of our lifetimes, we ask the board to not be as patronising or dismissive of our concerns.
Perhaps you don’t understand the stress of living on a main road coming off a busy motorway junction, or a small flat without a garden. Perhaps you don’t understand the difficulties of living with long term mental illnesses and the stress that comes with. Or perhaps you simply don’t care what the community is going through, and hope to press ahead despite the fact the world has changed due to Covid-19 and climate change.
Either way, we have repeatedly asked for greater community involvement in decision making, and for you to raise awareness with the community in an equitable way. What we see here and in your practice is an utter dismissal of our concerns.
We ask all community groups working in solidarity with us, to seriously question the public authority and it’s view of the public.
Allowing a blasé board of executives to hold such views of a community where they hope to build their centre – when many of us have been treated or know individuals seeking treatment ourselves – is disgraceful and must be treated as such.
Today Whitchurch and Llandaff North suffered very serious flash flooding. Over-development of built up areas leaves heavy rain water with nowhere to go except through our streets and houses. Concreting approximately 10acres of the meadows will seriously impact the surrounding area as rainwater isn’t absorbed into the ground. No matter what developers attempt to say they are going to do to stop this happening, the only serious solution is to stop the overdevelopment NOW!! Starting with the scrapping of any construction on our meadows.
While there has been widespread opposition by the local community to the plans to site the new Velindre Cancer Centre on the Northern Meadows, there has been very little discussion about the proposed funding arrangement. The financing of the new Centre is through the Welsh Government’s Mutual Investment Model (MIM). This will be the first hospital in Wales that is funded through a public- private finance initiative, and sets a precedent in establishing hospitals as private entities, leasing out facilities to the NHS.
I am both a Whitchurch resident and a Consultant Interventional Radiologist at Cardiff and Vale University Health Board, and over 90% of my professional work as a doctor is related to cancer. The views I express are my own, but do reflect those of other colleagues in healthcare. All of the documents cited are publicly available for verification.
The environmental arguments against destroying the Northern Meadows are clear. I don’t need to reiterate these. The main reason for writing is regarding good modern cancer care of the population in the 21st Century.
Cardiff and Vale UHB
Cardiff and Vale University Health Board is responsible for the health and well-being of the whole population. Indeed, this is set out in the aims of the health board -Shaping our future wellbeing strategy 2015-2025.
“Caring for People; Keeping People Well is why we exist as a UHB, with a vision that a person’s chance of leading a healthy life is the same wherever they live and whoever they are.”
There is little doubt taking away the Northern Meadows as they currently are from the local population would be hugely detrimental to physical and mental well-being.
The proposed model for Transforming Cancer Services in South East Wales
Developing a stand-alone Cancer centre is an archaic model, and I will go on to explain why.
Cancer treatment has become more and more complex, and cancer patients undergoing treatment have increasingly complex issues. If they become severely unwell now, they are transferred to UHW in an ambulance. Sometimes they require ITU treatment. Other new cancer service developments are using a different, better model with specialties on the same site, such as surgery, cardiology, interventional radiology, gastroenterology, respiratory medicine, intensive care and others. In other words, modern cancer services are physically linked to larger acute hospitals.
We are expanding and improving cancer care even further with the development of a new 11-floor specialist cancer hospital in the heart of Liverpool. The new cancer hospital is due to open in 2020 and will provide highly-specialist cancer care for people with blood cancers and solid tumours. Although the Liverpool hospital will become our main base, we will also continue providing services at our current site in Wirral and our satellite radiotherapy centre on the Aintree site.
Being located in central Liverpool alongside the University of Liverpool and Royal Liverpool University Hospital will significantly improve care for people with cancer:
· Our main base will be closer to the majority of the population we serve, which stretches from Southport down to Wirral and across to Widnes / Warrington. People who live closer to Wirral / Aintree will still be able to access care locally as we’re keeping our current sites
· Unlike now, we will be co-located with a major acute teaching hospital providing rapid access to intensive care and other key medical and surgical specialties when patients need them. At the moment these patients have to be transferred by emergency ambulance to other hospitals
· We will be at the heart of a thriving research and healthcare campus with the University of Liverpool, NHS and other key research partners, enabling even more ground breaking cancer research and clinical trials
The document below outlines clearly the forward-thinking direction of travel on a single-side of A4 in 2020:
“The need for onsite surgical and comprehensive medical acute support services to quickly and safely manage treatment related toxicities / complications, acute illness linked to patient comorbidities and frailty as well as disease related sequelae”
In other words, an independent body considers this to be an essential requirement.
Why have Velindre selected an archaic model?
Only they can answer this, but it MUST be scrutinised.
I completely understand why the clinical and managerial leaders at Velindre wish to remain large fish in a small pond, as they are at the moment. I also understand why they would not want this status quo to be disrupted, and that they want the new hospital to be built as soon as possible.
It appears they continue to disregard other options, although no doubt there have been reviews and option appraisals in the past. The world has changed, including the effect of COVID-19 and the importance of outdoor spaces for communities.
Velindre is an outstanding “brand” and much loved by the people of Cardiff. It is possible they may have taken the opportunity to exploit this “brand” so their decisions go without external scrutiny.
The new model for cancer care will be outdated before it is even built.
There are therefore important questions to ask.
Questions to consider
Has there been an independent clinical review of the proposed model for Velindre for the 21st century?
If there has been, when was it?
Who conducted it?
Was it truly independent?
Has there been any proper engagement with C and V UHB regarding the proposed redevelopment of UHW, and integration of cancer services on that site?
Has this been revisited as an option since the COVID-19 pandemic?
The clinical and managerial leaders may suggest a further cycle of review and updating will not achieve anything, and they may even be fearful nothing at all might happen. I understand this fear, as Velindre does need updating. My colleagues at Velindre would need reassurances from politicians that a 21st cancer centre will be delivered.
However, we should not spend millions of pounds of tax payers money doing the wrong thing, and destroying an important natural space which we would never have back, however outstanding the architecture is.
Those who oppose the new development and destruction of the Northern Meadows have been branded as anti “cancer services” but this is not true. The application must be called in and the proposed model of care reviewed.
Welcome to the website of the group opposing development on the green open land known locally as the Northern Meadows, in Whitchurch Cardiff. We aim to provide up to date information about the current planning situation and how members of the public can help with making an objection.