WITHYBUSH CONCERNS: Cancer cover is a struggle, health chiefs admit

PRIEST'S CONCERNS: The Rev David Hammon, who is receiving treatment for cancer, fears for the future of Withybush Hospital's cancer services.
 
PICTURE: Gareth Davies Photography
 (2552614)

PRIEST'S CONCERNS: The Rev David Hammon, who is receiving treatment for cancer, fears for the future of Withybush Hospital's cancer services. PICTURE: Gareth Davies Photography (2552614)

First published in News

Health chiefs have admitted they are ‘struggling’ to provide services for cancer patients in Pembrokeshire.

The difficulty, which hinges on recruitment, is apparently common to every health board in south Wales.

One oncologist’s weekly Withybush clinics are now being held fortnightly. On other weeks, patients have to travel to see him in Prince Philip Hospital, Llanelli - where his clinic staff from Withybush also make the journey to provide continuing care.

A Pembrokeshire clergyman who is undergoing cancer treatment has described the move as ‘yet another nail in the Withybush coffin with regard to the long-term future of both Ward 10 and the chemotherapy day unit'.

The Rev David Hammon, who has already fought oesophageal cancer, is now receiving treatment for a lung tumour.

He said this week: “I was told that my oncologist, Dr Vigneswaran, had been ‘told’ to transfer two of his four monthly Withybush clinics to Llanelli.

“At the encouragement of the medical staff at Withybush, I wrote to the health boards of Hywel Dda and Abertawe Bro Morgannwg complaining. ABM replied, saying they were ‘looking into it’. Hywel Dda have not even replied.”

The Rev Hammon, aged 65, who is priest in charge of Lampeter Velfrey, added: “I have had the most wonderful treatment from everyone - Narberth surgery, Withybush, Glangwili and Singleton hospitals. But I am now extremely concerned both as a patient and as a parish priest, who wonders just how his parishioners will manage to cope with journeys to Llanelli for oncology clinics. Oncology clinics are, I can assure you, extremely stressful occasions, even the most routine ones, without having to travel all the way to Llanelli for them - a round trip of over 120 miles for some Pembrokeshire residents."

The Pembrokeshire local committee of the Hywel Dda Community Health Council was told on Thursday that Dr Vigneswaran wanted to reduce the number of sessions he provided in Pembrokeshire, while another oncologist, Dr Moe, was also not attending as frequently.

“We recognise there is a real struggle around oncology services,” said Hywel Dda’s associate director of clinical services, Dr Sian Lewis.

A meeting to look at cancer services within the three counties reported that the service in Withybush was ‘under immense strain’ with outpatient appointments capped.

The appointment of an oncologist to work with both the Hywel Dda LHB and the Abertawe Bro Morgannwg LHB has been agreed in a bid to solve the matter.

At the CHC meeting, chairman Tony Wales requested weekly updates of the issue, while CHC chief officer, Ashley Warlow, commented: “This paints a picture of things slipping. We seem to be reneging on our promises to deliver cancer care closer to patients’ homes.”

Comments (7)

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10:00pm Sun 24 Nov 13

teifion says...

Before the Welsh Parliament - The senedd - cut the welsh NHS budget, they despite having a bigger budget than Englands NHS budget could not afford 24 life saving cancer drugs freely available in England - with these cuts things are going to get a lot worse - I suggest IF you have a life threatning illness you sign on with an English GP using a friends/relatives english address.
It's easy enough to blame poverty on greater NHS needs in Wales BUT maybe we look at priorities - are free prescriptions for all and free parking really important - its fooling grandstanding politics for Cardiff to trumpet these things and then not even comment on the fact that you are a LOT more likely to die in Wales than you are in England with the same illness
Before the Welsh Parliament - The senedd - cut the welsh NHS budget, they despite having a bigger budget than Englands NHS budget could not afford 24 life saving cancer drugs freely available in England - with these cuts things are going to get a lot worse - I suggest IF you have a life threatning illness you sign on with an English GP using a friends/relatives english address. It's easy enough to blame poverty on greater NHS needs in Wales BUT maybe we look at priorities - are free prescriptions for all and free parking really important - its fooling grandstanding politics for Cardiff to trumpet these things and then not even comment on the fact that you are a LOT more likely to die in Wales than you are in England with the same illness teifion
  • Score: 4

11:47pm Sun 24 Nov 13

TenbyBoy says...

If you look here:

http://www.zen142533
.zen.co.uk/SWATcontd
/rochdale.html

you'll see that Mr Purt did exactly this in Rochdale and ruined the place!!
If you look here: http://www.zen142533 .zen.co.uk/SWATcontd /rochdale.html you'll see that Mr Purt did exactly this in Rochdale and ruined the place!! TenbyBoy
  • Score: 3

10:11am Mon 25 Nov 13

Gogledd says...

It is quite a terrifying situation. But I agree, you are more likely to die in Wales than you are in England. I too have considered signing on as a vistor into a friends GP practice in the N W of England...but I should not have to do that. I would rather NOT have free prescriptions or parking and a health service for all...
It is quite a terrifying situation. But I agree, you are more likely to die in Wales than you are in England. I too have considered signing on as a vistor into a friends GP practice in the N W of England...but I should not have to do that. I would rather NOT have free prescriptions or parking and a health service for all... Gogledd
  • Score: 1

10:01am Tue 26 Nov 13

js9325 says...

As someone who drove over 130 miles a day for an 8 week course of treatment I agree that it is stressful, however we also have to be realistic. Medical science is always advancing and the best results are in centres of excellence that specialise in particular treatments and I don't see how in an area with a population as small as Pembrokeshire we can expect to have a full range of services locally.
As someone who drove over 130 miles a day for an 8 week course of treatment I agree that it is stressful, however we also have to be realistic. Medical science is always advancing and the best results are in centres of excellence that specialise in particular treatments and I don't see how in an area with a population as small as Pembrokeshire we can expect to have a full range of services locally. js9325
  • Score: 1

10:35am Tue 26 Nov 13

TenbyBoy says...

@js9325

I agree that specialist Cancer and Cardio treatment is much better in specialist units. However, I also believe that Pembrokeshire should have a SCBU and A&E units and residents shouldn't have to drive a minimum of 40mins, into another county to receive basic treatment which is what is being proposed by the Health Board if they get their way.

I hope that there's truth in the rumours that the background of Trevor Purt is being looked into at Assembly Level after he nearly bankrupted Rochdale NHS Trust shortly before leaving and being appointed here because it proves it didn't work there and won't work here. Rochdale and surrounding area became a ghost town.
@js9325 I agree that specialist Cancer and Cardio treatment is much better in specialist units. However, I also believe that Pembrokeshire should have a SCBU and A&E units and residents shouldn't have to drive a minimum of 40mins, into another county to receive basic treatment which is what is being proposed by the Health Board if they get their way. I hope that there's truth in the rumours that the background of Trevor Purt is being looked into at Assembly Level after he nearly bankrupted Rochdale NHS Trust shortly before leaving and being appointed here because it proves it didn't work there and won't work here. Rochdale and surrounding area became a ghost town. TenbyBoy
  • Score: 2

5:52pm Tue 26 Nov 13

teifion says...

js9325 wrote:
As someone who drove over 130 miles a day for an 8 week course of treatment I agree that it is stressful, however we also have to be realistic. Medical science is always advancing and the best results are in centres of excellence that specialise in particular treatments and I don't see how in an area with a population as small as Pembrokeshire we can expect to have a full range of services locally.
I know \i'm going back but around 10 years ago a friend in the Welsh NHS told me that in Wales there was an extra level of trust (or whaterver) so that despite Wales being smaller than London it had almost as many overpaid senior managers as half of England.

I really fear that it's jobs for the boyos (plenty of money in the NHS isn't there?) just like Welsh councils - naming no names Mr Jones (except why do you get twice the salary that the woman who runs Ceredigion gets?)

Two years ago I know that Wales didn't have a single stroke speciality centre despite it being one of the biggest causes of death and disablement in the country - where I lived before in West Sussex (not even the whole of Sussex ) it had TWO.
Just one more point which I know I am repeating - until the latest cuts the Welsh NHS had a bigger budget per "customer" than England so where does the *******g money disappear to?
[quote][p][bold]js9325[/bold] wrote: As someone who drove over 130 miles a day for an 8 week course of treatment I agree that it is stressful, however we also have to be realistic. Medical science is always advancing and the best results are in centres of excellence that specialise in particular treatments and I don't see how in an area with a population as small as Pembrokeshire we can expect to have a full range of services locally.[/p][/quote]I know \i'm going back but around 10 years ago a friend in the Welsh NHS told me that in Wales there was an extra level of trust (or whaterver) so that despite Wales being smaller than London it had almost as many overpaid senior managers as half of England. I really fear that it's jobs for the boyos (plenty of money in the NHS isn't there?) just like Welsh councils - naming no names Mr Jones (except why do you get twice the salary that the woman who runs Ceredigion gets?) Two years ago I know that Wales didn't have a single stroke speciality centre despite it being one of the biggest causes of death and disablement in the country - where I lived before in West Sussex (not even the whole of Sussex ) it had TWO. Just one more point which I know I am repeating - until the latest cuts the Welsh NHS had a bigger budget per "customer" than England so where does the *******g money disappear to? teifion
  • Score: 1

6:04pm Tue 26 Nov 13

teifion says...

PS Just saw this on twitter -

Ann Clwyd ‏@AnnClwyd 43m
The Royal College of Surgeons have also joined me in calling for a review of the Welsh NHS, amid 'public anxiety' about standards of care
PS Just saw this on twitter - Ann Clwyd ‏@AnnClwyd 43m The Royal College of Surgeons have also joined me in calling for a review of the Welsh NHS, amid 'public anxiety' about standards of care teifion
  • Score: 2

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