Major step towards equal cancer treatment across North Wales after Llangollen man paid £900 for scan

Original by Staff Reporter, the freepress - https://www.denbighshirefreepress.co.uk/news/17340444.major-step-toward…

A campaign to have equal cancer treatment across all of Wales' health boards has achieved a major victory.

 

Stuart Davies, 70, from Llangollen, paid Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board (BCUHB) nearly £900 for a multi-parametric MRI (mpMRI) scan when a cancer that he'd beaten several years ago returned 18 months ago.

The mpMRI is a specific type of MRI scan that can give more detailed images of the prostate than a regular MRI scan.

The scan was recommended to Mr Davies by the health board as a way of specifically deciding upon the correct treatment for his cancer. After receiving the scan in 2017 he was shocked to learn that it is offered for free by other health boards.

A petition to have the free scans rolled out across al of Wales was launched by Mr Davies part way through 2018 and received over 6,000 signatures, warranting its discussion in the Senedd in Cardiff and last month Mr Davies marched on the capital, joined by fellow campaigners.

Before the petition was launched, just three of the seven health boards in Wales, offered mpMRI before biopsy and only one board provided to a standard high enough to safely rule men out of biopsy. This meant men in four health boards did not have access to mpMRI as a diagnostic test, unless they paid to have it done privately

Although the contents of the petition are still to be fully debated, the initial outcome has been a great success for the campaigners, with another step forward being taken to rolling the scan out for free across all of Wales' health boards in the near future.

Members of the Petitions Committee at the Senedd agreed with the views of Mr Davies, with Janet Finch-Saunders AM saying: "People are having to buy their own scans and things now, just to get some reassurance in some cases.

"It's really bad in north Wales, so I have every sympathy with this petition."

A number of questions have been put forward to Vaughan Gething to be debated at a Plenary meeting later this year including; the current availability of mpMRI scans pre-biopsy for patients in Wales and what support the Welsh Government would provide to health boards in the event that NICE revises its guidelines to recommend the use of mpMRI scans pre-biopsy.

After the petition committee, Mr Davies said: "Looks like NICE have agreed that mpMRI scans are the way to go to help diagnose prostate cancer and that they should be offered as a diagnostic tool across the whole of Wales and so will be free. This was expected last year but they have brought the guidelines forward by the looks of it, maybe due to pressure off us, North Wales CHC, ProstateCancer UK and the media.

"Myself, my wife and Geoff Ryall Harvey of the North Wales Community Health Council went to the Senedd to watch the Petition Committee discuss our petition about mpMRI scans. What was very noticeable was how big the petition was.

"Given that some of the petitions attracted between 50 and 150 signatures the 6,000 plus signatures have sent a powerful message to the Senedd.

"It was decided by the committee to ask the Senedd to debate the issues. This is important because the pressure needs to be applied to Betsi (health board) and Vaughan Gething (AM, cabinet secretary for health and social services) to implement the guidelines as soon as possible.

"Men are in touch with me who are waiting for these mpMRI scans, they are asking why are they free in South Wales and not in North Wales.

"In my honest opinion their lives could be at risk whilst they wait for these scans.

"We are asking that while the new guidelines are being implemented an interim measure is put in place to offer these in North Wales.

"Myself and other men paid £890 for our scans but I believe the BCUHB only pays £300 as a trade rate.

"The buck stops with Vaughan Gething. I call on him now that the NICE guidelines are in place to make sure that there are funds made available to pay for the infrastructure and in the interim period, scans for men who are waiting."

Mr Davies has also won his personal battle to have the costs of the scan refunded, with Betsi issuing an apology and accepting that they had made a mistake.

"My campaign to be refunded the £890 I paid for my mpMRI scan has also been successful. The BCUHB have agreed that 'there has been a breach of duty' and they have refunded me that money."

A spokesman for BCUHB said: “We currently offer mpMRI to patients in line with 2014 NICE guidance. We note that new guidance is currently being consulted upon and are preparing for the changes that may arise when it is finalised this year.”