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Quick-time referrals speeding up cancer diagnosis in North Wales


New rapid Diagnosis Clinics in North Wales will help to diagnose patients with concerning symptoms more quickly as part of nationwide work to cut cancer waiting times.

Rapid Diagnosis Clinics are now established at Glan Clwyd Hospital, Wrexham Maelor Hospital and from April the clinics will start at Ysbyty Gwynedd.

The clinics are part of a national programme supporting Health Boards in Wales to provide GPs with an additional option to investigate vague symptoms that may be caused by cancer. The Rapid Diagnosis Clinics can provide quick reassurance to people with no cancer, help to diagnose a range of other chronic health conditions or refer people on for cancer treatment more quickly.

Dr Daniel Menzies, Consultant in Respiratory Medicine at Glan Clwyd Hospital, said: “The Rapid Diagnosis Clinics provide clarity for the patient and certainty for the GP and hopefully allows us to pick up cancers earlier than we would normally.

“Under normal circumstances patients who present to their GP with non-specific symptoms take a number of tests to figure out what is causing them. Now these patients are referred into the Rapid Diagnosis Clinic in just under a week, undertake diagnostic evaluation including all the CT imaging and we provide an answer for them in that timeframe.

“The clinics provide certainty and diagnosis quickly for patients where there are concerns about cancer. It can only be a good thing if we can make the diagnosis sooner and get patients onto the correct treatment quicker and similarly if they are worried what might be causing their symptoms, such as weight loss, we can provide some clarity and reassurance that there is not a serious underlying problem.”  

Dr Elaine Hampton, GP Facilitator for Cancer Services at BCUHB and GP working from Bronderw Surgery in Bangor, has been part of the team setting up the clinics in North Wales.

She said: “It is really exciting for us to see these clinics now operating, this is something I’ve been wanting to bring to North Wales for some time since I first heard about a scheme such as this running through Cancer Research UK in England and thought this is exactly what we need here.

“It can be an extremely worrying time for patients waiting for a diagnosis when they are experiencing vague-symptoms. These clinics mean we can give them answer quickly, and they are referred to the correct specialist quicker if further investigations are needed.”

Minister for Health and Social Services Eluned Morgan added:

“With one in two people developing some form of cancer in their lifetime, improving outcomes for cancer patients in Wales is one of the NHS Wales’ top priorities.

“It is fantastic to see such innovative work being introduced, including rapid diagnostic clinics and other programmes to increase capacity, speed up diagnosis and reduce anxiety for patients at a potentially difficult time in their lives.

“This has been a really challenging time for our health service but I am pleased to see work being carried out to improve cancer services for the better.”

Find out more about the Rapid Diagnosis Clinics.