The battle for right is turning.

The battle for right is turning. The wire today carried news of a historic legal judgement capping the legal costs of Cat Lewis, an environmental campaigner. She attempted against all odds to stop the wrong clinical model for cancer care being also built on a very wrong choice of site. Co-locate Velindre wishes wholeheartedly to congratulate Ms Lewis on her hard-fought victory. She is now a legend and deserves to be.

This verdict emerges as an environmental legal precedent with profound implications, as Ms Lewis’s lawyers have pointed out. They write: ‘the Aarhus Convention should be broadly interpreted to provide access to environmental justice.’ https://dpglaw.co.uk/welsh-court-judgment-protects-campaigners-from-legal-costs-in-environmental-cases/

Ms Lewis herself hopes that the case will give confidence to other campaigners to challenge decisions. The battle for right is turning.

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Recruitment and retention in cancer care – the experts speak.

A recruitment crisis ahead?

Our last blog welcomed the call in Senedd for a ‘workforce recruitment and retention plan for cancer specialists.’ https://colocate-velindre.co.uk/483-2/

But the Board scrutinising cancer research in Wales has pointed out a major threat to Welsh recruitment and retention. It’s the proposed New Velindre Cancer Centre itself.

Professor Neil Burnet’s letter came from the heart. He himself formerly worked at Velindre. Now he’s Chair to the Board of seven world-class professors monitoring cancer research quality throughout Wales. He reaffirmed in September his Board’s unanimous message to the Welsh research community:

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MSs are switched on to it. A cancer workforce plan is needed in Wales.

There’s a cancer workforce crisis in Wales. But most of the parties in Senedd have shown themselves switched on to the need for purpose and action. Conservative, Plaid and Liberal Democrat have demanded a Welsh 5-year Cancer Strategy. And soon.

They’ve also called for a speedy ‘workforce recruitment and retention plan for cancer specialists’. And they enjoy the support of 20 Welsh cancer charities, including Cancer Research UK in Wales. Seemingly only Welsh Labour is not switched on to this urgent need.

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Co-located cancer care – is it all just personal?

2022 is upon us, the days are getting longer and the crocuses are proudly anticipating the grand reveal of their colour and beauty over the coming weeks. It is impossible not to feel renewed hope and positivity in spite of oneself. And so hope we will – that we can continue to raise awareness of the medical model needed to provide the best and safest care for cancer patients in south east Wales.

Our continuing efforts in this area are not personal. Our criticism of the proposed model is not personal. Endeavours to encourage scrutiny of the nVCC project are not personal. We simply believe that there is a far better, safer, cheaper way to care for patients with co-located care and that the current proposals WILL fail to guarantee safety and joined-up thinking across multiple specialities.

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Freedom of Information – but ‘where are the Velindre minutes?’

‘Where are the Velindre Minutes then? A routine enquiry has thrown up major questions about the legitimacy of the new Velindre Cancer Centre being built away from a general hospital. A recent Freedom of Information response (13th January) signals that Velindre did not generate key documentation for this decision. In particular, the reply clearly can’t confirm that there are minutes or even agendas for the crucial clinical meetings behind the choice of site.

So when the FOI requested dates, agendas and minutes in September 2021, none proved forthcoming in the reply. Rather, it reported that no ‘separate outputs’ from the meetings existed, not even ‘notes’, so inevitably no minutes.

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Professionalism – All Doctors Have a Duty to Respect Colleagues

The purpose of this piece is not to educate any readers to buy into the professional values of doctors, or to enter into debate about specifics of professional behaviour. Rather it is to consider the behaviour of a group of doctors who have differing opinions on the future of cancer care and to remind us all of our duties of professional behaviour towards each other, and that this matters.  To this end we re-read a General Medical Council booklet entitled ‘Good medical practice: Professionalism in Action’ (henceforward shortened to GMP: PIA) and this blog will refer to this document frequently. 

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‘Large-scale options appraisal’. Nuffield to Velindre.

Colocate Velindre recently contested a local politician’s claim about the Nuffield Trust’s Advice to Velindre in 2020: https://colocate-velindre.co.uk/nuffield-myths-always-look-twice/ It turned out the politician had not grasped Nuffield’s insistence on a large-scale options appraisal prior to everything else.

For Nuffield, transformation of cancer services should only ever begin this way. It comments (italics and bold added by us):

 ‘…we are not making any judgement about the decision to site the new VCC on the Northern Meadows. Such large-scale option appraisal exercise is not only well beyond our terms of reference but is fundamentally about values and the choices that need to be assessed and taken by all involved. It cannot be outsourced…’ (p.11)

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Co-locate is back

Co-locate is back. Slightly late, we wish you all the good things you need for navigating life in 2022. We are still in the fray this year, and still on the side of best cancer care. Our previous post depended on events as they broke and got posted just too near Christmas to have full impact. But it really brought vital information found only here so visit it anyway and do take a look at the brief YouTube clips. We work on to see truth out in the open and wise decisions on the rise. A new blog follows shortly.

Co-locate Velindre

New Velindre devalues stakeholders?

Can it really be that New Velindre devalues stakeholders and fellow professionals in cancer? We ask the question since a Velindre spokesperson has apparently devalued the following:

1: The 7 members of the External Advisory Board (EAB)

This body monitors the Wales Cancer Research Centre (WCRC). All its panel members are NHS professors with international reputations in cancer. It is the eminent panel of doctors that assures standards for cancer research in the whole of Wales.
See the Board’s letter at:
https://colocate-velindre.co.uk/eminent-clinical-reviewers-on-velindres-plans/
The letter warns that the New Velindre ‘stand-alone’ cancer centre is against patients’ interests. The current plan will damage Velindre’s recruitment, research, brand and reputation.

2: The 163 senior clinicians specialising in all aspects of cancer throughout S E Wales, their names known to successive Health Ministers.
See their letter at:
https://colocate-velindre.co.uk/letter-from-163-clinicians/

3: An award-winning NHS cancer centre critical for north Wales patients.

The New Velindre attitude on all three surfaced in October with a video clip showing its spokesperson publicly replying to questions.
See this and other brief clips at:
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCsKXkeYLS68savA_m5nzi9g

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MEDICINE AND THE ENVIRONMENT – A VIEW FROM COLOCATE VELINDRE

One Month on from Cop 26

Co-Locate is not an environmentalist activist group and it is not in our remit to propose the co-location of the ‘New Velindre’ on environmental grounds; all readers of our work should be fully aware of our central and over-arching premise that co-location is the only safe future provision for cancer services.  However, this blog adds to the many reasons why the building of a new cancer centre on the Northern Meadows site is wrong by considering the green issues arising in the run up to, and since the COP 26 climate crisis talks in Glasgow last month.

The British Medical Journal has devoted a whole issue to the issues of climate, environment and health1.  The NHS in Wales has issued a document published on 22/11/2021 entitled ‘How NHS Wales is responding to the climate emergency’2.  Velindre University Trust has contributed to the latter, and we select the following excerpts from Velindre’s series of ‘ambitions for the greenest hospital (sic) in Britain’ to discuss further below.

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Nuffield Myths. Always look twice.

What’s more disconcerting than misinformation?

Especially misinformation about major medical issues as serious as cancer.

A constituent recently emailed Senedd MS Julie Morgan calling for an independent external clinical review of New Velindre’s stand-alone model before the proposed building works go forward. This was her reply, received by email on 3rd December, 2021:

‘The Nuffield Report was quite clear that the build should go ahead.’

This is very serious misinformation. It illustrates why we should always look twice at claims to be following the Nuffield advice. For Nuffield made no such recommendation.

What the Nuffield advice rather said was that ….

‘….we are not making any judgement about the decision to site the new VCC on the Northern Meadows. Such a large scale option appraisal exercise is not only well beyond our terms of reference but is fundamentally about values and the choices that need to be assessed and taken by all involved.’ https://www.nuffieldtrust.org.uk/project/independent-advice-to-velindre-nhs-university-trust pg 11.

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What did our survey find?

Staff are being given a whitewashed version of the process with absolutely no information to allow them to provide critical clinical feedback on the project. Velindre are being in no way transparent with their own staff, many of whom totally lack a basic understanding of the realities of this centres proposed service provision as a result.‘ (respondent 6)

Regular readers will know that we’ve been running a survey asking people about their awareness of the New Velindre plans, and what they think of them. The survey is still open, and can be found here: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/Q6TM7FR

What have we learned so far?

We knew when we started it that the survey was not going to give us statistically accurate results. People answering it are likely to have been interested on the subject (one way or another) already. Also, we don’t know what proportion of people who looked at it chose not to answer. So we’re not going to be saying ‘95% of respondents agreed…’ for example.

We can say, though, that we received many more responses than we’d expected, much more quickly than we’d expected. Not everyone who responded agreed with our views, but the vast majority were polite in the way they disagreed.

Many of the people responding are Health Care Professionals, and many of them currently work, or have worked at Velindre. We’ve no way of identifying any individuals.

Two key themes emerged: concerns for staff and patient safety with the stand-alone model, and the lack of consultation by Velindre with their own Staff and more widely.

We’ve already highlighted some comments on Twitter (@colvelindre) You can find out more about what Health Care Professionals think of the plans below:

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Iolo Williams on Co-Location

On a recent visit to the Northern Meadows Iolo spoke about how a cancer centre cannot any longer be built away from a main hospital, rather they should be “side by side.”


Iolo said that although he has been a massive supporter of Velindre, for example walking up Kilimanjaro to help them, he is now asking Velindre to think again and find a more suitable site so that the new cancer centre is not set apart from a main hospital.


Here is a short video of Iolo at the Northern Meadows.

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This is what a colocated cancer centre looks like

Guy’s Cancer Centre: colocated and amazing

Take a look at this video describing the colocated cancer centre at Guy’s Hospital in London.

The planners at Guy’s recognised that patients were receiving their care from many different locations over two sites, ‘and it was exhausting’.

New Velindre Leadership say that there’s just no room to build a colocated centre on the UHW site. They say the build in Whitchurch will provide a better patient experience, despite the risks and stress of patient transfers.

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