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.’

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

And something further disturbs Co-locate Velindre . An allegedly left-of-centre government, along with NHS Trust directors, threw public money in wads at a misguided, unnecessary legal battle. So they used up cancer money and for what? It was the grand cause of extracting a pitiless £30,000 from someone who couldn’t pay anyway. And they knew this venture could destroy a recovering cancer patient with limited financial means.

Can we really call this a worthy mission for a specialist NHS Trust with a duty of care? And we hear the Trust threatened these costs from the very beginning of the Judicial Review process. That may reliably tell us all we need to know about what we’re dealing with here.

Got money, will find lawyers

A reckless gamble

The predictable claim that government and Velindre’s management had to defend public funds won’t wash. In fact, it’s risible. For the truth is that they have squandered precious cancer funds on an indulgent adventure during post-pandemic austerity. But will it ever turn out, we wonder, that some politician and/or manager will be held accountable for this profligacy with cancer funds?

Co-locate Velindre, among others, has repeatedly pleaded for recognition that the New Velindre project never really put patients first. It has shown carelessness towards the wide-ranging needs of cancer patients. This means the venture spends money badly. Only a co-located cancer centre could prove worthy of the level of spending. And, we suggest, this should have been the main cancer goal from 2014 onwards. And it should have focused on UHW2. Perhaps it would have done with a cancer strategy in place. Co-location can still do this.

A discredited clinical model

For the reasons above the External Advisory Board monitoring Welsh cancer research has pleaded for a change of clinical underpinning model for New Velindre. It wrote this explicitly for the sake of patients across all Wales. So also did the letter from 163 senior clinicians working in cancer in January 2020.

A bad deal

Nuffield, despite what New Velindre seems to be saying, did not approve, or even hint at approving, the intended new build. Rather the panel merely gave a highly conditional and restrained verdict. That is, they saw the networking planned for the programme as, well, ‘a reasonable way forward’. So if that’s enough to make you happy at committing £562m + + on an outpatients’ cancer unit you won’t fret at more millions spent on lawyers and injunctions. ‘It’s all okay – taxpayers and donors pay the bill’.

Yes, and so also will cancer patients.

See also:

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