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Proton therapy centre officially opened

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HEALTH Minister Vaughan Gething has set out his vision for cutting edge precision medicine to improve health and deliver a sustainable future for NHS Wales.

During, a visit to the Rutherford Cancer Centre in Newport, Mr Gething announced new strategies to transform pathology and precision therapeutics in Wales.

He said: “To address future challenges from the increasing burden of disease we must focus more on prevention, early detection and personalised targeted treatments. Precision medicine will increasingly support a more personalised approach to health and care.

“In Wales, we are already making progress in the field of precision medicine and I am confident that we can be a global player in the race to harness its potential. NHS Wales is on the cusp of realising the significant benefits that can be delivered by advances in precision medicine for patients by offering the right test or treatment at the right time.

“Our long term plan ‘A Healthier Wales’ recognises the importance of moving towards earlier detection and intervention to prevent illness and prolong independence.”

One of the first patients in the UK to receive high-energy proton beam therapy has today praised UK oncologists for embracing proton beam therapy and the transformative effects it has had on his treatment.

Ryan Scott, 23, from Cardigan in Wales, underwent treatment for a brain tumour (grade 1 craniopharyngioma) at the Rutherford Cancer Centre South Wales in Newport as part of NHS Wales’ proton beam therapy treatment pathway for adults.

Ryan Scott said: “I was very pleased when my consultant recommended proton beam therapy and told me that it was available close to home in South Wales. I was due to be treated with proton beam therapy over the course of eight weeks in the United States, a disruption I was not looking forward to. Happily, however, the agreement between NHS Wales and the Rutherford Cancer Centres was struck just in time for me to be treated a short drive from home.

“The process of undergoing proton beam therapy was much better than anticipated. There have been hardly any side effects and being able to sleep in my bed after a day’s treatment is a real plus.”

Mr Gething explained the Welsh Government had a clear vision for harnessing technology to deliver precision medicine in diagnostics and therapy that will ensure a sustainable future for NHS Wales.

“The Rutherford Cancer Centre in Newport, which was the first facility in the UK to offer proton beam therapy for cancer patients, is an excellent example of the development of new cancer therapies, here in Wales. It’s a perfect illustration of how we are working collaboratively to deliver technological innovations to improve treatment,” he said.

“Today I have published our Statement of Intent for Advanced Therapeutic Medicinal Products, which sets out how we will deliver precision therapeutics, like new cell therapies, in Wales.

“Alongside this, I have published a Statement of Intent to transform pathology services. All this builds on our recent investment in diagnostic services such as the new Imaging Academy for Wales.

“In this financial year, I am pleased to provide additional funding of £2.3m to support the delivery of new genetic tests together with a further £2m to support national plans for transforming diagnostic, health science and advanced therapeutic medical services in NHS Wales.”

Andrew Goodall, chief executive of NHS Wales, also attended today’s official opening.

The centre is part of a nationwide network that provides state-of-the-art cancer services including imaging, chemotherapy, immunotherapy, radiotherapy and high energy proton beam therapy.

The Newport centre was recently approved by the Welsh Health Specialised Services Committee (WHSSC) to provide high energy proton beam therapy to adult patients referred from the NHS in Wales, the centre also treated the first patient in the UK with proton beam therapy in April last year.

Mike Moran, chief executive of Proton Partners International which operates the Rutherford Cancer Centres, said: “It is gratifying to see UK oncologists becoming increasingly aware of proton therapy and embracing the treatment. Our collaborative partnership with the NHS in Wales means that adult patients have an option to be treated closer to home.”

“I am delighted by the support we have received from the Health Minister, the Welsh Government, the Wales Life Sciences Investment Fund and the NHS in Wales which has meant that Wales has been the pioneer in proton beam therapy in the UK. Patient demand is increasing and it is encouraging that the UK is beginning to catch up with Europe in the provision of this therapy.”

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Health inspectors praise for local field hospitals

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TWO of the field hospitals across Hywel Dda University Health Board have been highly praised by Health Inspectorate Wales in a recently published report.

The two extra capacity sites – Ysbyty Enfys Carreg Las at the Bluestone resort near Canaston Bridge in Pembrokeshire, and Ysbyty Enfys Selwyn Samuel in Llanelli – were visited by a team in late October and was the first time HIW has inspected such settings.

The inspection examined how the risks to patients’ health, safety and well-being are being managed in these temporary sites. Inspectors found appropriate processes were in place to provide safe and effective care to patients.

The report’s summary stated: ‘We found evidence of extensive planning by the service in preparation for the provision of safe and effective care to patients within unique environments. The transformation of both sites into clinical wards was well considered. We saw evidence of good leadership and staff who were engaged and passionate in their roles.’

Dr Meinir Jones, Hywel Dda UHB’s Associate Medical Director & Clinical Lead for the field Hospitals, said: “This is excellent news and more importantly, a testament to the incredible work of our team. I’m very proud of what has been achieved at both sites, which are receiving patients to help relieve pressure on the acute hospitals. The field hospitals give us the flexibility to move patients out of hospitals after they have been assessed as no longer needing medical input, but still require some care before being discharged home or to a community care facility.”

HIW’s Interim Chief Executive, Alun Jones said: “During the COVID-19 pandemic we have adapted our approach to inspection and assurance in recognition of the pressure that healthcare settings have working under and the administrative burden that inspection can place on a settings that is being inspected. I’m pleased that we have been able to safely inspect two field hospitals ahead of the winter period and quickly provide reflections on what we found to those managing these settings.”

The inspection report for the two field hospitals is available here: www.hiw.org.uk/hywel-dda-university-health-board

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Schools to remain open for now as Wales moves to ‘delay’ phase

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SCHOOLS will remain open as Wales moves into the “delay” phase in containing the coronavirus, the Welsh Government has announced.

The advice will change from today (Mar 13), with people who become unwell being asked to self-isolate for seven days.

Chief medical officer Dr Frank Atherton said the trajectory of the virus was now “quite clear” and the challenge remained preparing for a significant number of cases in Wales.

Dr Atherton said: “Wales was now really in the delay phase of the virus and it would lead to some inconvenience for people not going to work or school.

“We need to reduce the demand on the health and social care system so it can prepare for peak which may be May or June.”

SCHOOLS OPEN FOR NOW

Health Minister Vaughan Gething said closing schools was not an appropriate option for now.

He told a press conference at 3.30pm Thursday (Mar 112): “Ministers have had clear advice that closing schools now is not an appropriate step to take. For now, the advice and guidance is very clear. Schools should stay open.  

“To be effective measure schools would have to be closed for a significant amount of time.

“If we close schools, what impact does that have on parents?  Parents could be nurses, doctors or the police. We need to keep key workers in work.

“Another point is, if parents can’t look after them then it’s likely that older members of the family or grandparents will be. Older people are the people we want to protect now and in the future.

“Furthermore, in the Easter break, lots of children will be with each other anyway. The value in closing schools is low.

“Ministers are making choices guided by the best possible evidence and scientific advice.

“Members of governments around the UK need to take a responsible approach and take steps where there is no medical advice to do so within the four nations of the UK.”

LATEST FIGURES

Six new cases of coronavirus have been identified in Wales, bringing the total to 25 at the time of going to press. (7pm, March 12)

785 people in Wales have been tested for Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19).  760 results were negative, and 25 results were positive.

CONCERT CANCELLED

Milford Haven School postponed the concert due to take place yesterday (Mar 12). The school stated on social media: “We have regrettably made the decision to cancel the scheduled Milford Haven Cluster Welsh Concert here at Milford Haven School tonight.

“The decision is owing to us taking a proactive approach to prioritising the health and safety of not only our own pupils, but also their families and the wider community. Please note, this is not due to any specific health concern within the school. We will announce rescheduling of this event in due course.”

ROBUST MEASURES IN PLACE

Dr Robin Howe, Incident Director for the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak response at Public Health Wales told The Herald that he was certain that “robust infection control measures in place.”

“The public can be assured that Wales and the whole of the UK is prepared for these types of incidents.  Working with our partners in Wales and the UK, we have implemented our planned response, with robust infection control measures in place to protect the health of the public.

“We would encourage people to check the advice for returning travellers, which includes guidance for those returning from Italy, China, Thailand, Japan, South Korea, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, Malaysia, Macau, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, and Iran.

“Members of the public can help protect themselves and others by always carrying tissues, and using them to catch coughs or sneezes.  They should bin the tissue, and to kill the germs, wash their hands with soap and water, or use a sanitiser gel.  This is the best way to slow the spread of most germs, including Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19).

“Public Health Wales’ trained scientists are now conducting the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) diagnostic test in Wales.  Over 90 per cent of the individuals who have been tested in Wales have been offered testing in their own home, making it as convenient as possible for them, as well as protecting our ambulance and hospital resources for those who need it most.  We are not able to comment on individual cases for reasons of patient confidentiality.”

Official updates on the virus in Wales will now be given at 11:00 daily.

There are now 596 confirmed cases in the UK, up from 456 on Wednesday, and two more deaths, of people with underlying health conditions in London and Essex, taking the total to 10.

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Wales confirms second positive case of Coronavirus (COVID-19)

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THE CHIEF Medical Officer, Dr Frank Atherton, has confirmed that a second patient in Wales has tested positive for Coronavirus (COVID-19).

The patient is a resident in the Cardiff local authority area and has recently returned from Northern Italy, where the virus was contracted. The patient is being treated in a clinically appropriate setting.

Dr Atherton said: “I can confirm that a second patient in Wales has tested positive for coronavirus (COVID-19).

“All appropriate measures to provide care for the individual and to reduce the risk of transmission to others are being taken.

“I can also confirm that like the first case in Wales, this patient had travelled back to Wales from Northern Italy, where the virus was contracted.

“I’d like to take this opportunity to assure the public that Wales and the whole of the UK is well prepared for these types of incidents. Working with our partners in Wales and the UK, we have implemented our planned response, with robust infection control measures in place to protect the health of the public.”

To protect patient confidentiality, no further details regarding the individual will be released.

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