Bosses back Gwent radiotherapy plans

Posted on Oct 07, 2011

GWENT health bosses are backing a plan for phased investment to provide a more targeted form of radiotherapy for patients in South Wales. And the move is backed by Gwent health watchdogs, who are worried that further delays in its introduction will lead to cancer patients receiving a lesser service, or having to travel to England for treatment.

IMRT (Intensity Modulated Radiotherapy) offers a more precise way of applying radiotherapy, minimising damage to surrounding organs and tissues. It also allows more scope for patients to have higher doses, with the potential to improve their outcome. But in Wales, IMRT has been limited to just a handful of head and neck cancer patients – for whom it is particularly beneficial – due to a lack of equipment and trained staff.

Funding for IMRT-compliant Linac (linear accelerator) machines, which deliver radiotherapy treatment, has been made available for siting at Velindre Cancer Centre, Cardiff, by the Welsh Government, but staffing and training has been a stumbling block. Now Aneurin Bevan Health Board has given its commitment to phased investment on staffing and training, which is likely to involve funding well into seven figures. The proposal is being steered through the South Wales Cancer Network, and also involves backing from Swansea and from Velindre NHS Trust.

“We would very much welcome developments in this area because they are long overdue,” said David Kenny, of Aneurin Bevan Community Health Council, Gwent’s independent patients’ watchdog. “In England IMRT is a basic treatment for a number of cancers, and we see no good reason why Wales should be lagging behind.”

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