Vaughan Gething, Deputy Minister for Health
In January, the Welsh Government announced £1m would be allocated to each of 10 key delivery plans – investing £10m in total to improve care, services and outcomes for people with a range of serious and life-long conditions.
Delivery plans were developed to bring together key actions to improve major conditions, such as cancer, heart disease and stroke. They are developed by clinicians, patients and advocates for excellent care. As well as setting out core actions, the plans contain outcome and assurance measures to monitor the progress made. We are committed to transparency and have published – at health board and national level – annual reports about progress.
These plans are delivering real improvements in care and patient outcomes. More people are surviving cancer than ever before, despite more people being diagnosed with cancer and 96% of people with cancer rate their care as excellent, very good or good. Donations to the Wales Cancer Bank have increased; the recording of staging of cancer has improved; we have issued new guidance on key workers and put in place a robust peer review process to drive up the quality of our services – all actions in the cancer delivery plan.
We are making similar progress with other disease areas – heart disease and stroke survival has improved; the number of people dying from stroke has fallen by 1,000 a year. The number of emergency admissions for stroke, heart disease and diabetes is also falling, which shows that these conditions are being managed better in the community. We have already developed a 24/7 end-of-life care service in Wales – the end-of-life care delivery plan drives us to go further.
There is still more work to do to deliver all the actions outlined in the delivery plans to improve care and transform services. However, we must recognise that many of these plans are relatively new – the neurological, respiratory and liver plans are just a year old or less. We all want the process of improvement to be rapid but we also want it to be sustainable.
Each delivery plan has an implementation group, with clinical leaders, health professionals, third sector and patient representatives from across all health boards, which has set out how it will invest the £1m funding, to deliver tangible improvements to patient outcomes.
I am pleased to be able announce how £7m will be invested in the cancer, diabetes, stroke, neurological, respiratory, end-of-life and mental health plans. The liver, heart disease and critical care delivery plans have also been allocated £1m and are finalising their proposals. I will update members once their investment plans have been agreed.
The £1m for the cancer delivery plan will support projects to improve outcomes for people with lung cancer, including improving public awareness of the disease and a programme of pre-habilitation for people who need surgery to maximise the benefits of their treatment. New cancer pathways will also be developed, improving the way services are monitored and further patient experience surveys will be undertaken.
The funding for the diabetes delivery plan will be targeted at improving self-management of the condition through structured education programmes. Funding will also be used to drive up care standards with new posts to support transition between child and adult services and for clinical podiatry as good foot care is essential for people with diabetes. The diabetes implementation group will also invest in community diabetes specialist nurses.
The respiratory funding will tackle variation in prescribing by developing all-Wales guidelines and new training for healthcare professionals. It will also help to increase expertise in the use of spirometry by creating accredited training centres throughout Wales. The implementation group also wants everyone newly-diagnosed with asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) to have a written self-management care plan to help them manage their condition successfully.
The end-of-life care investment is focused on hospices at home. Although well-developed in some areas of Wales, the service is not consistently available across the country. The investment will ensure there is a greater level of clinical support in the community to help people die in their preferred place of choice.
The neurological and stroke implementation groups will be working together to make a significant investment in neuro-rehabilitation services. Rehabilitation helps people to maximise their independence while living with neurological impairment. The groups have also agreed to jointly focus on patient experience to better understand the needs of people.
The £1m allocated to the mental health plan will form part of a £3m package to improve access to evidence based psychological therapies and talking treatments for adults, children and young people, as previously announced by the Health and Social Services Minister.
A number of the implementation groups have also agreed to pooling some of their funding in a project to identify and deliver targeted interventions to those at risk of cardiovascular disease. This will build on the Living Well Living Longer programme currently running in Blaenau Gwent, which identifies those at the greatest risk of developing cardiovascular disease and invites them for a health check. It is important that we focus on preventing people developing chronic conditions wherever possible.
We are making good progress to implement our delivery plans and improve the care the NHS provides to people with major health conditions but there is still much to do. This £10m of Welsh Government funding, shared between 10 delivery plans, will ensure we maintain our focus, delivering further improvements to services and to patient outcomes and experiences.
For more information the plans and reports can be found online.