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Funding boost for West Wales cancer services

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Moondance Cancer Initiative has awarded just over £400,000 to seven innovative projects across north and west Wales to improve cancer services.

The Moondance Cancer Initiative Innovation Time Awards were created in Summer 2021 to encourage and support staff across Welsh health and care services to adopt practical and clinical innovations to improve cancer outcomes with immediate impact – whether in cancer services, diagnostics, treatments, enabling technologies or workforce on the ground. This is especially important as the NHS aims to recover from the impact of public health measures taken during the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.

The 2021 awards have been open to staff across Hywel Dda University Health Board, which covers West Wales, and Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board in North Wales, and offered up to £100,000 for implementation of an innovation over 6-12 months.

Teams in Betsi Cadwaladr Health Board have been awarded just over £200,000 to:

  • Introduce a dedicated new pathway for cancers which are especially difficult to diagnose (‘malignancies of unknown origin’), linking to the planned rapid diagnosis centre
  • Introduce a new endoscopy list that will enable faster diagnosis (and therefore faster progress into treatment) for patients who need some sedation to tolerate endoscopy procedures
  • Encourage more people to engage with bowel screening at home
  • Trial the use of an AI solution to support pathology teams in the diagnosis breast cancer, enabling more rapid diagnosis in time.

Teams in Hywel Dda Health Board have also been awarded just over £200,000 for an array of ground-breaking projects:

  • Development of an artificial intelligence tool with the potential to radically reduce misdiagnosis of prostate cancers
  • Trialling of a 3D imaging app originally developed in the cosmetic surgery sector with patients requiring breast reconstruction – reducing the need for multiple surgeries
  • Trialling a new lung cancer diagnosis pathway that patients can access directly, taking pressure off GP surgeries.

All projects are expected to start within 3 months and have a real practical impact for patients in 2022.

Megan Mathias, CEO of Moondance Cancer Initiative, made the announcement: “We received some exciting, high-quality applications and we’re delighted to be able to commit over £400,000 in funding to support seven innovative ideas to improve cancer services in 2022.

“Our hope is that these innovations prove better for patients, and more effective and efficient too – enabling Betsi Cadwaladr and Hywel Dda University Health Boards to adopt them into core services in 2023.

“Huge congratulations to the winners. Of course, the hard work starts now, and we look forward to staying in touch with them all over the coming year.”

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Commenting on the award, Phil Kloer, Medical Director for Hywel Dda University Health Board said: “We’re thrilled to have partnered with Moondance Cancer Initiative on these Awards. We’re confident these projects will help us to make a real difference to cancer patients across west and north Wales.”

Jo Whitehead CEO of Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board said: “Like so many, I’ve had experience of cancer in my own family, and so I know how important it is that we continually strive to improve cancer services and outcomes, especially as we grapple with additional demand following the Covid-19 pandemic. I’d like to thank all staff who participated in these awards, and of course huge congratulations to those who have been successful. I look forward to supporting them to succeed.”

(Lead image: Hywel Dda NHS)

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Carmarthen

Major new TV drama latest to choose Carmarthenshire as its setting

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Carmarthenshire County Council has been working with location scouts and the production team to support the filming of a new thriller, which is using the county as its backdrop.

Y Golau/The Light In The Hall, produced by Triongl Cyf and Duchess Street Productions, is being filmed in Welsh and English and is set to air on S4C and Channel 4 in the UK, and Sundance Now in the US.

Cast and crew have been working in and around Llandovery, Carmarthen, Llangadog and Llandeilo over the past few weeks.

Actors including Joanna Scanlan, currently starring as Ma Larkin in the hit ITV family drama The Larkins, and Iwan Rheon of Game of Thrones, are amongst those featuring in the thriller.

The council has been working to ensure the local area benefits financially from the production with location fees, accommodation and associated spending on food and retail in the Llandovery, Carmarthen, and surrounding areas set to bring a substantial boost to the local economy.

Council officers have also ensured minimal disruption to communities for the duration of the filming, with traffic management and access to local businesses unaffected.

This is the latest major production to be located in Carmarthenshire, on the back of the hugely successful Keeping Faith drama based in Laugharne and Carmarthen, and Save The Cinema, a film due to be released on Sky in the New Year.

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Although Llandovery and Carmarthen will see the most activity, other locations across the county are also hosting film crews for a range of other productions at the moment.

Cllr Emlyn Dole, Leader of Carmarthenshire County Council and Cabinet Member for Regeneration, said: “Yet again Carmarthenshire has been chosen as the location for a major production, which proves that what we have got to offer is enough to attract the best companies in the world.

“Our officers have been supporting the crew to scout locations, contact local landowners and liaise with partners – all part of our efforts to support the growth of the local economy. When we are able to attract productions of this scale, we are able to bring new money into the area – a cast and crew of around 60 people are staying and spending locally, and that means money in the tills of local businesses and in the pockets of local people.”

Cllr Peter Hughes Griffiths, Cabinet Member for Culture, Sport and Tourism, added: “We are very fortunate to have such a range of locations suitable for filming in Carmarthenshire, from large beaches that stretch for miles, to rural and urban landscapes, rolling countryside and historic buildings. We have worked hard to grow our reputation as a location for filming and that is paying off with more enquiries being made to us all the time. It will be fantastic to see Carmarthenshire featured on the screen once again.”

(Lead image: Carmarthenshire Council)

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Carmarthen

Council moves customer services into former Carmarthen Debenhams store

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Carmarthen’s council customer services Hwb is moving to St Catherine’s Walk to make use of space in the council’s 100% Sir Gâr pop-up shop.

Carmarthenshire County Council has secured temporary use of the former Debenhams unit in Carmarthen town centre to provide free retail space for local businesses in the run-up to Christmas.

And to take advantage of the space, it is also moving its customer service team there so people can call in and get advice about council services and support, pick up recycling bags and more whilst doing their Christmas shopping.

The cash desk and other council services will remain at Spillman Street.

Several local businesses have already signed up to make use of the free retail space being offered as part of the council’s 100% Sir Gâr initiative, which will see a new lease of life being brought to the empty town centre unit.

Leader of the council, Cllr Emlyn Dole, said it made sense to bring the customer service centre into town to make it easier for people to access council services in the run-up to Christmas.

“We are pleased to be making good use of this empty unit in Carmarthen town centre’s prime retail core,” he said. “We’ve got lots of fantastic local businesses signed up to make use of the free retail space we’re offering as a 100% Sir Gâr pop-up shop.

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“We know this time of year is an exceptionally busy period for people, so it made sense to bring our customer services team into the heart of the town so people can get help and support from us without going further out of their way.

“Our customer services team are there to help with everything from accessing financial support to helping people find suitable housing, from applying for blue badges to supporting people with recycling, and much more.

“We hope people will call in to support local businesses as they do their Christmas shopping, and – if they need it – get the help and support of our customer services team at the same time.”

(Lead image: Google Maps)

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Carmarthen

New state-of-the-art prostate biopsy machine for Glangwili and Prince Philip hospitals

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A £50,000 state-of-the-art prostate biopsy machine has been purchased for use at Glangwili and Prince Philip hospitals, thanks to charitable donations to local urology services, including a £30,000 donation from the West Wales Prostate Cancer Support Group.

The new diagnostic equipment will transform the way prostate cancer is diagnosed, according to Urology Consultant Mr Yeung Ng, and enable the Urology team to continue to develop the targeted biopsy service locally.

Consultant Mr Ng said: “The new equipment allows the capacity of prostate biopsies to be doubled, while also allowing the biopsies to be undertaken.

“The equipment will enable us to undertake transperineal biopsies which are safer procedures with a lower rate of infection as we do not have to undertake the biopsy rectally and diagnostic rates are also improved. 

“The Urology Department is extremely grateful for the charitable donations that we have received to make this purchase possible, as well as for the continued support that WWPCSG has provided us.

“The support of our local communities has helped us acquire new state-of-the-art prostate diagnostic equipment that equips us well for transitioning over to a transperineal prostate service while continuing to develop the targeted biopsy service.

“This support is helping to transform the way we diagnose prostate cancer, especially as patients have previously had to travel to a neighbouring health board to receive this advanced biopsy.”

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Pictured from left, with the new biopsy machine, are: Specialist Nurses Wolfgang Ackerman, David Ceri Thomas and Nicola Thomas; Consultant Mr Yeung Ng;  and Cancer Support Worker Janet Mackrell. (Image: Hywel Dda NHS)

Ken Jones, chairman of the West Wales Prostate Cancer Support Group, said: “Our group offers help to men and their partners living in west Wales.

“While we are not an organisation that sets out to raise funds, we are frequently given donations by people that we have helped. So, when we are able, we donate larger sums to areas where they are needed, such as health boards and cancer research charities that work within west Wales.

“We are delighted to be able to assist in the purchase of this equipment that will help in the work of Hywel Dda’s Urology Department.”

Lead Image: From left, at the cheque presentation are: Urology Service Manager Lianne Wood; Clinical Nurse Specialist Angharad Watkins; Chair of Hywel Dda University Health Board Maria Battle; Consultant Mr Yeung Ng; David Goddard, Ken Jones and Iori Rees of WWPCSG; and Claire Rumble, Hywel Dda Health Charities Fundraising Officer. (Image: Hywel Dda NHS)

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