PEOPLE who visit their GP with non-specific but concerning symptoms could be referred into a new clinic that aims to detect those who may have cancer.
A Rapid Diagnosis Clinic (RDC) was launched on October 6th at Prince Philip Hospital, Llanelli, where patients from across Carmarthenshire, Pembrokeshire and Ceredigion will be seen in this clinic.
The plan is to develop further RDCs at sites across the health board.
Patients attending the RDC will be seen by a Doctor and undergo further investigations of their symptoms. Patients will leave the clinic either with results and a likely diagnosis, a plan for further investigations or reassurance if the results are normal.
Dr Sion James, Deputy Medical Director for Primary Care and Community Services at Hywel Dda University Health Board said: “The RDC provides an opportunity to promptly review and investigate those patients in whom it can be challenging to make a diagnosis. Additionally, it will reassure patients quickly if their results showed no evidence of cancer.”
GPs will arrange for the patients to have blood tests prior to their attendance at the clinic.
Patients will be contacted via telephone by the RDC staff and supported in preparing for the clinic.
Gina Beard, Lead Cancer Nurse at Hywel Dda UHB said: “The RDC is an exciting development that will be essential in improving cancer outcomes. Previously, when symptoms have been vague, patients may have experienced referral to several different services before receiving a diagnosis.
“The RDC will address this, delivering an efficient and person-centred diagnostic experience for patients who will be supported through this pathway by a Clinical Nurse Specialist.”
The RDC team aims to see patients within one week of referral from their GP.
The Chair of Hywel Dda UHB, Maria Battle said: “The past 18 months have been extremely challenging and have caused many problems in detecting early stage cancer in patients. It has caused a backlog in patients waiting to access care for cancer and in extreme circumstances has meant detecting late stage cancer in some.”
“In light of this, the Rapid Diagnosis Clinic will be a break-through in helping patients with non-specific symptoms get the attention and care that they need promptly and efficiently. As we move forward from the hardship that the pandemic has brought us all, it will greatly improve patient care and preservation of life in this patient group.”
New plan to keep Wales open and safe during “challenging” winter ahead
The First Minister, Mark Drakeford, will today (Friday October 8) publish new plans to help keep Wales open and safe during the difficult autumn and winter months ahead.
The Welsh Government is publishing an updated Coronavirus Control Plan, which outlines the key actions, which could be put in place to control the spread of the virus.
Wales will remain at alert level zero for the next three weeks, following the latest review of the coronavirus regulations. This means all businesses are open and Wales has the lowest level of restrictions.
Speaking ahead of his press conference, First Minister Mark Drakeford said:
“We are facing a challenging winter ahead – coronavirus hasn’t gone away and flu is forecast to return this winter.
“Vaccination is the best defence we have against coronavirus – the more people who are fully vaccinated, the better our chances of controlling the spread of this awful virus.
“We will continue to focus our efforts on increasing take up of the Covid-19 vaccine across the age and priority groups and rolling out the booster vaccine too. We also encourage everyone who is eligible, to have their flu jab this year.
“There is also a range of other measures we can all take to help protect ourselves and our loved ones, such as washing our hands, reducing the number of people we meet and wearing a face covering in indoor public places.
“These measures have helped keep us safe throughout the pandemic and they will also help to protect us from other winter viruses, such as flu and other respiratory infections.”
The latest version of the Coronavirus Control Plan sets out two planning scenarios for the pandemic over the winter – in the first, called Covid Stable, Wales remains at alert level zero through the autumn and winter, with all businesses able to open.
This is thought to be the most likely scenario for the future, as we become used to living with coronavirus and we gradually move out of the pandemic to a position where the virus becomes a seasonal illness.
Under this scenario, if case rates fall, measures could be relaxed further in response, and if they rise, some existing measures could be strengthened to protect people’s health.
The second planning scenario, called Covid Urgent, is designed to deal with any sudden changes to the situation, caused by the emergence of a new, fast-spreading variant or if vaccine immunity levels fall, causing a rise in pandemic pressures, which risk overwhelming the NHS.
In such a scenario, the alert level system and restrictions would be used proportionately, but as a last-resort means, to protect people’s health, control the spread of infections and to protect the NHS.
Help keep Wales safe:
• Get your Covid-19 vaccines, including your booster when invited
• Get tested and self-isolate if you have symptoms
• Outdoors is safer than indoors
• Keep your distance when you can
• Wash your hands regularly
• Wear a face covering in indoor public places
• Keep indoor places well-ventilated
• Work from home whenever possible
• Use a Covid Pass in nightclubs and large events.
Commenting on the First Minister’s announcement Welsh Conservative Shadow Health Minister Russell George MS said:
“Like the First Minister acknowledged, vaccinations have proven to be the key that unlocked society and the economy after severely weakening the link between infection and hospitalisation. To those who have yet to be vaccinated, we urge them to do so and those eligible to get a booster jab.
“However, while we remain at Level 0, new restrictions are coming in as the coercive, ineffective, and anti-business Covid passports will limit our freedoms, fail to limit the spread of coronavirus according to the Welsh Government’s own scientists, and add additional burdens on already stretched businesses.
“There has been a poor communication campaign from the Welsh Government on their introduction, little justification of their effectiveness, a failure to address confusion and fix bugs, and no explanation on how they will police the alternative Covid test system so open to abuse.
“We have passed the peak of infections without further restrictions and passports will do little to stem the problems that has led to the worst-ever A&E waiting times, longest ever NHS treatment backlog, and second slowest ambulance response times built up under Labour mismanagement.
“So instead of further restrictions, we need Labour ministers to bring forward a proper winter pressures plan that introduces the Covid treatment hubs for which Welsh Conservatives have long called for and reverse their damaging decision to bring in Covid passports.”
Roll-out of Covid vaccination for 12 to 15-year-olds gathers pace in Wales
AS 12 to 15-YEAR-OLDS across Wales start to receive their Covid-19 vaccinations, the Health Minister today (Oct 4) confirmed they will all be offered a vaccine by the end of October half-term.
All 12 to 15-year-olds will be invited by letter to have the vaccine and the majority being administered at mass vaccination centres. In some areas, vaccination will be carried out at schools.
Some of the most vulnerable 12 to 15-year-olds in Wales have already started receiving the vaccine and all health boards will have started rolling out the programme in their areas this week.
Health Minister Eluned Morgan said: “Vaccines remain our strongest defence from the virus, helping prevent harm and stopping the spread of Covid-19. Some studies have shown show one in seven children who have been infected with the virus are thought to have also developed long-Covid.
“We have provided resources and information to help this age group make an informed choice about vaccination. I encourage parents, guardians, children and young people to discuss the vaccination together.”
Dr Gill Richardson, Deputy Chief Medical Officer for Vaccines, added: “We have seen the benefits that come from having as many people as possible vaccinated.
“After careful consideration of the evidence, the four UK chief medical officers recommended the vaccination of healthy 12 to 15-year-olds after consultation with experts, such as the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health.
“They concluded that the health benefits, combined with the additional benefits of reducing educational disruption and effects on mental health meant that vaccination should be offered.
“Children and their families will be receiving links to information with their invitation letters so they can make an informed decision about whether or not to have the vaccine.”
Why we still need to protect ourselves from COVID-19
EVEN though restrictions are being eased, COVID-19 has not gone away and we all have a reason to keep our communities safe reminds Hywel Dda University Health Board.
With COVID-19 cases rising across Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion and Pembrokeshire, everyone is asked to remember what we can do to protect ourselves and each other.
As at 26 August, the rolling weekly rate per 100,000 saw an increase in all three counties, with Carmarthenshire increasing to 287, Ceredigion to 271 and Pembrokeshire 396. The overall rate for Hywel Dda increased this week to 319 per 100,000.
The number of tests carried out in Hywel Dda UHB area has also increased for the same period, with results showing an increase in positivity to 17% (11% the previous week).
While the most significant increase is amongst the under 30s, there are still positive cases among the over 70s.
Even if vaccinated, following these simple steps can keep us safe, and remember that some rules are different in Wales.
– Work from home whenever we can
– Self-isolate and book a test if you have symptoms, even if mild
– Meet outside, it is safer than inside
– Limit our social contacts and keep a distance when possible
– Wear a mask, especially in crowded places
– Wash our hands regularly and thoroughly
We can do this to keep ourselves, our friends and family safe, and to protect our frontline services to serve our communities when you need us most.
Ros Jervis, Director of Public Health at Hywel Dda UHB, said: “We are still very much in this pandemic which continues to disrupt our everyday lives. I’m proud of how much effort people have put into staying safe since it began. The rise in cases shows that, whilst hospital admissions are not as high as in previous waves, COVID-19 remains a risk to our health and our health service.
“I’m appealing to everyone to continue doing our bit by sticking with the ‘keep safe’ behaviours that have almost become second nature. Without your help, we will struggle to contain further spread of coronavirus here in west Wales.”
Anyone with COVID-19 symptoms, including cold and flu-like symptoms, must self-isolate and book a test via the UK portal (opens in new tab) or by calling 119 as soon as possible. By doing this, you can help to reduce the risk of further spread of the virus across our communities.
You must continue to self-isolate until you receive your test result, which will usually be within 24 hours of the test. If your result is negative, you can end your self-isolation, when you feel well enough to do so.
If your result is positive, you must self-isolate for 10 days from the date your symptoms started. A contact tracer will be in touch with you and will only contact you from 02921 961133. If you miss the call, don’t worry, they’ll call you back.
Why it’s important to speak to a contact tracer? By sharing information on recent contacts, tracers can ask those who may have caught the virus to self-isolate to help stop further spread. It’s important that people answer the contract tracer’s call so they can help you, especially if you or your contacts need extra support. Information you share with them will be kept safe and treated confidentially, as with all health information.
Together we can keep Hywel Dda safe.
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