The Welsh Government has been urged to develop new strategies for cancer services and a specific Covid-19 recovery plan.
The Senedd’s Cross Party Group on Cancer has warned that a new plan is needed to replace the 2016 Cancer Delivery Plan, and the re-starting of reporting against the Single Cancer Pathway targets.
Wales had introduced the Single Cancer Pathway in June 2019 to help measure cancer waiting times and improve early diagnosis rates but reporting was paused to reduce pressure on health services during the pandemic.
The group’s report, The Single Cancer Pathway: Next steps to achieve earlier diagnosis in Wales, warns: ‘The challenge facing cancer services is immense. There was a clear need to improve cancer diagnosis, treatment and care before the pandemic hit. Covid-19 has set us back further.
‘A new cancer strategy needs to be bold and ambitious in tackling these challenges. Delivering the full potential of the Single Cancer Pathway must be a central component of any strategy.’
Group Chair David Rees said: ‘Evidence is clear that diagnosing more cancers at an earlier stage, when they are more treatable, offers the best hope of saving more lives. The Covid-19 pandemic is the greatest threat and challenge to our NHS, and cancer has not been immune to this.
‘The introduction of the Single Cancer Pathway provides us with the tools to properly identify opportunities to get better at diagnosing cancer, and the context through which we can make them a reality.’
The report calls on the Welsh Government to develop a fully funded plan to increase capacity in cancer diagnostics, including: