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Eluned Morgan MS, Minister for Health and Social Services

First published:
30 January 2023
Last updated:

We are committed to improving cancer services and outcomes in Wales. To do this, we need to ensure that the NHS has a modern set of reliable digital systems that enable it to treat people with cancer and which can better enable integrated care across different clinical teams.

The core system used across Wales has been the Cancer Network Information System Cymru (CaNISC). This system provides the cancer patient record of treatment, the patient administration system for Velindre Cancer Centre, and is the primary source of cancer data for waiting times, clinical audit, and cancer registration.

The Cancer Network Information System Cymru is approaching the end of its viable service as it can no longer be updated to keep pace with changing clinical practices and processes. The 2018 Cancer Delivery Plan for Wales included an action to explore the replacement of CaNISC resulting in a business case being submitted to the Welsh Government to develop a new Cancer Information System for Wales.

Welsh Government agreed a £6.5 million investment from the Digital Priorities Investment Fund in 2019 spanning three financial years, working with Digital Health and Care Wales (DHCW), health boards and trusts to deliver this Cancer Informatics Programme.

The Cancer Informatics Programme consists of two elements:

  1. Roll out of the Welsh Patient Administration System (WPAS) and Welsh Clinical Portal (WCP) as the new Cancer Informatics System (CIS) to Velindre Cancer Centre. Velindre Cancer Centre was the only hospital in Wales using CaNISC as its patient administration system. WPAS is the digital system used by most hospitals in Wales to book patients into clinics. In order to introduce a new Cancer Information System for the whole of Wales, it was vital that Velindre Cancer Centre had an alternative means of administrating its clinics using the WPAS system.
  1. The development of the main clinical functionality within WCP. This is the system that comprises the patient record, including the patient’s characteristics and details about their cancer, as well as the treatment prescribed, and outcomes received.

I am pleased to announce that the Velindre Cancer Centre successfully migrated from CaNISC onto the new Cancer Informatics System (CIS) on 14 November 2022. This is a huge achievement by all those involved and the first major milestone for the Programme.

This means that the risks inherent in the legacy system have been removed and the digital system being used by Velindre Cancer Centre to administer clinics and record patient data is more secure and reliable. It also means that the cancer care record now exists in a form that is properly integrated with other national systems and more visible to clinicians across Wales delivering care to patients treated at Velindre Cancer Centre.

This significant development has resulted from an unprecedented degree of cooperation between cancer teams across Wales to standardise how they use data and to agree common digital interfaces. It has been a very challenging task for DHCW and other NHS bodies to deliver in the face of the pandemic. I must pay tribute to the hard work of all those involved. This achievement also provides a springboard for increasingly standardised, aggregated, and accessible data that can be used to improve service delivery and outcomes in the years ahead. Yet this is only the beginning of the programme.

The immediate next phases are to roll out the patient record functionality to all health board cancer teams to allow them to move off CaNISC and begin capturing patient and treatment data in the new all-Wales Cancer Informatics System. We will also move palliative care services and Public Health Wales Screening services onto the new system, as well as the potential to roll out new radiotherapy requesting functionality to other cancer centres. Beyond that we will continue to evolve the system to improve its automation and ability to capture increasingly specific data for each type of cancer. This will be vital to ensure clinical teams at various points along the patient pathway have the information they need and so that Wales can continue to take part in national clinical audit for more types of cancer.

To ensure we can realise the full benefits of this development over the next 18 months, I have approved a further £2.9 million funding allocation from the Digital Priorities Investment Fund. This brings the total investment to over £11 million, which will ensure cancer patients in Wales, and clinical teams across the country, have a modern and fit for purpose cancer clinical record to work with.