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of cancer centres such as Mount Vernon, Clatterbridge and Beatson units, tells us that a stand alone, isolated unit is outdated and clinically unsafe.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.
Velindre and TCS have said this would add 10-15 years to the development. This is categorically untrue. Their own website states it would add 2 years to building time. You can find that information on Velindre’s own website here http://www.transformingcancerservices.wales/your-questions/
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? ❓❓
Mount Vernon Cancer Centre Strategic Review (2019)
Enquiry Visit to Beatson West of Scotland Cancer Centre (2015)
Transforming Cancer Services http://www.transformingcancerservices.wales/your-questions/