Please find attached a copy of a letter sent to Vaughan Gething MS and Julie Morgan MS, requesting they prevent any further development of the Transforming Cancer Services Project and save the northern meadows.
In the letter, we highlight the recommendations of the Nuffield Trust, the lies told by the public body, and our recommendations of how the Government can reconcile with the community and protect biodiversity whilst reconfiguring the project to ensure the people of South East Wales have access to the excellent Cancer Care they deserve.
This matter is crucial, as TCS seek to begin enabling works, spending £26.9 million of a Welsh Government Grant to build a road to nowhere. This is an unacceptable risk to the community and biodiversity following the Nuffield Advice and the Senedds declaration of a climate emergency. It would be a significant waste of public money and demonstrate negligence at the highest level. As a result, we hope you can urge the Ministers to stop the destruction and protect this community from any further development by seeking to implement our demands.
Please do not hesitate to get in touch if you have any further questions,
The Save the Northern Meadows Group
Letter to Ministers below:-
We are acutely aware of the relentless demands of COVID-19 on both you and your department and greatly appreciate all you do. So we wouldn’t write to you at this time were not urgent action forced upon us by others right now.
We believe that as a result of the Nuffield Advice; the economic impact of the Transforming Cancer Services (TCS) project, the threats to biodiversity and public health and wellbeing posed by the project, and the widespread community opposition to building on the Northern Meadows, you must act urgently to stop any and all construction relating to the enabling works and the new Velindre Cancer Centre.
We remind you:
- – Over 1,000 objections were submitted to four planning applications which were granted without covering community concerns;
- – Over 100 parents at Coryton Primary expressed concerns over their children’s health if the development goes ahead;
- – 11,000 people signed a petition asking the Government to stop the destruction;
- – 5,000 people called for an independent inquiry into the medical model and choice of site;
- – Hundreds of people protested in Whitchurch on multiple occasions;
- – And we joined over 1,000 people across Cardiff to call for environmental, racial, economic, and social justice in Wales in September.As a result, we sincerely hope we are able to work together to find a solution for the issue of the development of the Northern Meadows. We believe the only solution now recommends placing the nVCC Satellite centre on the Whitchurch Hospital, or alternative site. This would protect the Northern Meadows, and could enable the connecting of both sites with accessible pavements to allow cancer patients and people across Whitchurch to experience the healing powers of nature, without destroying the wonderful biodiversity which exists across the meadows, railway cutting, and Historic Gardens of Whitchurch Hospital. This option has already been widely supported by the community, who wish to
protect the meadows and continue the historic connection of the people of Whitchurch to the NHS.
The Nuffield Advice to the Velindre University NHS Trust compels immediate radical changes to the TCS project. The Advice recommends the downsizing of the cancer unit resulting in a much smaller land footprint for the Centre, stating it would be unreasonable for the project to continue with the current plan. As a result, Velindre itself has now begun drastically reducing its projected inpatient admission numbers.
Commonly, we have heard of the alleged time constraints regarding the rebuilding of UHW, which is being used to block co-location. This lacks definitive proof and is largely an assumption. All because the less expensive option had been sidelined by TCS, who have spent the last six years and £20 million researching and developing this outdated project, with little to show for it.
- – The safety of cancer patients drives this dramatic change, just as already supportedby most senior clinicians in the region.
- – The key criteria of excellence in cancer care, must be co-located at UHW assoon as possible: in-patient care, research, training education resources.
- – For a period Velindre must continue on a suitable stand-alone site as a radiotherapy and chemotherapy unit, focusing on outpatient treatment, assessment, processing, counselling etc, but this will end when a suitable acute site has been located.The following list contains conclusions, recommendations and implications to be drawn from the Nuffield Trust’s advice to the Velindre NHS Trust and TCS:
- – Co-Location at UHW (University Hospital Wales) is the gold standard especially for safety (This is clearly described in Appendix One of the Document).
- – The Transforming Cancer Services (TCS) Programme has been insular and as such has failed to properly engage key stakeholders.
- – Recent proposals by TCS appear to be reactive to circumstances rather than proactive.
- – 6 years and £20 Million have not provided a blueprint to transform cancer services. The plan is simply to replicate current services.
- – Failure to co-locate threatens patient safety, research, teaching programmes.
- – The redevelopment of Velindre Cancer Centre at UHW is a once in a lifetime opportunity to transform cancer services for the whole of South East Wales, yet this opportunity may be missed through inflexibility, inaction or partiality.
- – Transforming Cancer Services should never have been the responsibility of a single organisation that delivers only part of the pathway. The whole regional network, transparent, accountable and well led, is the key to excellence.Despite these conclusions, TCS have put redundant contracts out to tender, seeking to begin pointless, damaging enabling works. So, we ask urgently – why has the outmoded business case from November not been formally and publicly set aside, and the project halted? Surely, such damning advice demands a rethink of the entire project and the executive staff entrusted with providing excellent cancer care for South East Wales, of which they have clearly failed and exacerbated a dangerous situation.Accordingly, you must act to halt this project on the Northern Meadows. Enabling works are, as we write, being progressed by TCS, wasting even more public money. This is malpractice with public funds and only you can stop it. No further advice to your department is needed to enable good judgement. The first stage of decision is being forced upon you by TCS jumping the gun without incorporating the Nuffield Advice.They are pursuing the beginning of this project, after repeatedly lying to yourself and the public regarding crucial aspects of the project, including:
- – How they engaged the public and medical staff within the Centre, and how they accounted for the concerns of the hundreds of individuals who engaged in due process;
- – The number of emergency transfers from Velindre to UHW by ambulance, repeatedly stating there were ‘less than 30,’ when our Freedom of Information
Request identified a yearly average of over 100 transfers, many red and amber
- – The number of severe incidents on the site, including the cover-up of anunexpected death by not labelling the tragedy a ‘significant incident;’
- – The time it takes for emergency transfers to be made between Velindre and UHW(which Velindre said took ‘minutes’, but our FOI’s identified an average transfertime of nearly two hours, including an hour wait at the Centre itself);
- – The research conducted into their clinical model of choice, which they emphasisedwas robust, did not exist. Repeatedly emphasising the Barrett Report, which we subsequently identified by contacting Dr. Barrett herself did not include research on the model proposed by the Trust;
- – Repeatedly failing to comply with FOI requests, of which we still have at least two outstanding for over ten weeks. Surely this is an unacceptable way for a public body to behave.We must highlight that if you do not act, biodiversity of a County Importance (as identified by the developers), including the homes of bats, dormice, slow worms, grass snakes, and category red and amber listed birds will be destroyed, and pointless damage done to the Whitchurch Hospital Grade 2 Listed Historic Gardens and Chapel will occur. The open space of the meadow is already heavily used for health and wellbeing purposes, and will be denied to the wider community just as your Government implements another national lockdown.We ask why this must occur, as a number of suitable alternatives have been identified for the Centre, including the Grange, site K of Whitchurch Hospital (with a planning application seeking to put a 200 bed hospital there). We also query why the new Covid centre at UHW cannot be considered as an alternative space for the nVCC post pandemic, given that (1) this will be available much quicker than a new hospital could be built on the meadows and (2) it is a more suitable location according to the Nuffield report and the clinicians who have spoken out about the standalone model?Should the project continue, you will be willfully polluting and harming our community by removing our only access to open space; failing to acknowledge the deathly
impact of increased air pollution, whilst committing to locking many of us in gardenless flats for an unspecified amount of time. This will be in violation of the Wellbeing of Future Generations Act, as well as your own policies which seek to maintain and enhance biodiversity. As Nuffield requires significant downscaling of the centre, surely the balance between necessity and the community now moves in favour of the community.
Therefore, we ask you to:
- Act urgently to prevent any enabling works from going ahead and saving the biodiverse space of County importance currently at risk;
- Promise no further funding to this project and forbid further expenditure;
- Call in applications 20/01110/MJR and 20/00357/MJR, giving the community astake in the development of Whitchurch Hospital;
- Work cooperatively with clinicians to identify the best option for cancer carefor the people of South East Wales.
- Work cooperatively with us and Julie Morgan MS to design a solution to theNorthern Meadows and Whitchurch Hospital Site which maintains and enhances biodiversity and secures long term solutions for cancer treatment in Wales.
We also call for long term commitments from this Government to ensure communities are never put under such significant pressure and manipulation by a public body again:
- Investigate where so much went wrong so as to prevent such a disastrous waste of public money for an NHS project ever happening again;
- Save the Northern Meadows and railway cutting, by designating the area a Local Nature Reserve and forbidding any construction here in future.
The Save the Northern Meadows Group