Today the opposition showed its true colours with a declaration of intent to start work to development of the New Velindre. This despite their many failures: to get planning permission, to discuss their work with local residents, to await the formal legal position with the Judicial Review not being heard until next month and finally, their failure to discuss the issues we have raised on this website in any way, shape or form.
Local residents managed to raise tangible objections to the planned works presented so shoddily and inaccurately. They put off the contractors from carrying out their intended works on the day, and raised public consciousness about the aim of getting New Velindre leadership to consider colocation.
The ITV news coverage included coherent factual interviews with some protesters who clearly have a proper understanding of the medical issues, along with the environmental concerns that also have.
We’ve reproduced this comparison chart kindly provided by the Save the Northern Meadows Campaign to demonstrate again the folly that the New Velindre Cancer Centre will be.
UHW, Velindre, Welsh Cancer Research and Questions…
Why has the projected new University Hospital of Wales disappeared from public view for more than half a year? Can the well-publicised vision for the new UHW really be stalled already? And wouldn’t a general, acute and teaching hospital (UHW2) bring hope to many times more cancer patients than even the planned New Velindre Cancer Centre would?
What could have put such an important project as UHW2 on pause? Is Welsh Government really mothballing the programme while heaping funding on a stand-alone New Velindre project that can only yield an outpatients’ cancer unit?
Or should we buy into the speculations going about that UHW2 is just another casualty of post-Covid austerity? A natural surmise, but then how could half a billion pounds (likely much more) still be heading towards New Velindre, with millions already pouring down on its troubled enabling project? Why this seeming extravagance for a (much needed) new radiotherapy centre but stinginess with the urgency for a major, replacement research and teaching hospital?
Yesterday’s blog drew the uncanny parallels between the sorry situation now affecting patients in the Grange Hospital, and the much less well publicised reliance on ambulance transport for patients in Velindre.
Velindre relies on ambulance transport for patients needing investigations and treatments they can’t provide on their Whitchurch site. This includes an average of two emergency transfers per week for the very sickest patients. Even before the recent pressures on the ambulance service, emergency transfers from Velindre to UHW could take up to six hours.
We’d like to hear from you
We know that patients receive excellent care from the clinical team in Velindre, and we appreciate all that they do. But some patients will need care from a bigger hospital. It’s not always possible to predict who will need this. If you, or a relative, has experienced a transfer from Velindre to another hospital, in an emergency or just for routine tests and treatment, we’d like to hear your experience. Tell us the good as well as the bad! You can contact us in confidence at firstname.lastname@example.org
That is the headline of a damning news story by the BBC’s Welsh Health Correspondent. The story describes a report by the Royal College of Physicians following a visit to the newly opened Grange Hospital in Cwmbran. You can read the story here: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-58967159 .
Junior doctors described facing numerous problems trying to make the Health Board’s model of care work. Many of the problems sound eerily similar to those we can expect to see with the New Velindre Cancer Centre.
Colocate Velindre has consistently put the case for co-location of the New Velindre Cancer Centre on an acute hospital site. All the evidence from Cancer Centres elsewhere in the UK, including the rest of Wales, shows that colocated centres deliver safer, more joined-up care to cancer patients when they so desperately need it.
We would like to make clear our gratitude to all Velindre’s staff, and we want everyone to be absolutely clear that we support these key workers and the service they provide.
We make many criticisms of ‘Velindre’ in our blogs, and we want to emphasise that these criticisms are NOT directed at frontline staff.
Our scientifically validated criticism is directed solely at the inner groupthink team that has advanced a calamitous project for cancer care in South East Wales. Those who are driving forward the development of a new, stand-alone Cancer Centre on a site several miles from an acute hospital. We call these people ‘New Velindre leaders’.
We are aware of accusations that we are in some way ‘anti-cancer treatment’, ‘nimby’ or ‘unsupportive’, and we have written this especially to refute these views.
We emphasise again our huge gratitude to the staff for the care they provide at the existing Velindre.
Ever since we launched the Colocate Velindre website, inbox and twitter feed, we’ve been contacted by people wishing to share their views and experiences. Sadly, whilst individuals have voiced their support for and agreement with Colocate Velindre, there is understandable anxiety around the potential for repercussions, including from New Velindre leadership. This has prevented people from going on the record.
Colocate Velindre is keen to hear from anyone with relevant views or experiences. The confidentiality of people who make contact is of the utmost importance. We appreciate that the situation is sensitive.
We will not post any information in any form that could potentially identify the source without their explicit consent.
At this time of austerity, uncertainty and challenge, it’s easy to overlook those who turn up daily and keep the world ticking over. Alarmist news headlines come and go- we may be relying on the army to drive ambulances. But let’s remember the hundreds of paramedics and ambulance drivers who turn up every day and go over and above each shift. They forgo breaks, finish late and often sit outside hospitals in a van, waiting. NOT doing the job they trained to do. NOT doing what gives them purpose in their work.
It isn’t just the ambulance service
Elective surgery is experiencing unparalleled delay, but let’s not forget the teams who continue to do the best for patients in this taxing environment- dealing with emergencies and fighting with their organisations to admit patients for interventions.
Intensive Care Units are full. Doctors are covering nursing shifts.
Critically ill patients may be transferred between sites to accommodate demand across networks. But people are doing their best.
We weren’t to know that only days later a Westminster report on the handling of COVID 19 would tell us that here too the Government’s approach ….was not challenged enough by ministers in any part of the UK, indicating a “degree of groupthink” https://www.bbc.com/news/health-58876089).
The external response at the time was increased clinicians’ pressure against the plans alongside the progress of a popular petition to Senedd in the same strain. Consequently the ‘Nuffield Advice’ was arranged, a contract between Velindre Board and the Nuffield Trust, and announced October 1st.
Unfortunately the Nuffield advice was immediately peddled as an Independent Clinical Review – in particular on the website of the one Member of Senedd closest and most sympathetic to the New Velindre scheme, namely Julie Morgan MS for North Cardiff.
Despite a local clinician going public on Welsh television, there has been an eerie silence from Velindre. They have made no effort to either acknowledge or challenge the damning claims: that the new model of care does not, and can not, guarantee the safety of deteriorating patient on a stand-alone site without its own dedicated transport service.
Sadly, and not without irony, the broadcast went live on the same day the ambulance service acknowledged they were relying on the army to help them with unprecedented demand.
We know that money is tight in NHS Wales- we see the effects every day, after all. Welsh Government faces tough decisions every day. These decisions directly affect the care NHS staff can provide, and the pay they receive for their efforts.
Take nurse pay, for example. Welsh Government has offered a 3% pay rise. This is a pay cut in real terms. Mark Drakeford himself agrees that nurses deserve more, but the cash could only be found ‘from doing even less’ to provide services.
Our NHS is already facing huge challenges ensuring safe staffing levels on wards. The cost of agency nurses to cover staffing vacancies is spiralling. In at least one Welsh hospital, Consultants are being taken away from their own specialist work to cover nursing shifts. Unsurprisingly, morale is plummeting.
We at Co-locate Velindre congratulate both Richard Pugh, Head of Macmillan in Wales and Dr Seema Arif, Consultant Oncologist at Velindre Oncology Centre for highlighting the growing number of terminally ill people accessing end-of-life benefits. In today’s BBC article https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-58769347 they report a “20% year-on-year increase in application forms for people who have less than six months to live”.