Thursday 24th August 2017

137 young people aged 15-24 are diagnosed with cancer in Wales each year. This may be a relatively small number compared to the 2,013 young people diagnosed in England, or 186 in Scotland, but Wales is a country with a unique health landscape. Although Wales owns some great achievements in health, such as Welshman Aneurin Bevan founding the NHS in 1948, when their industry took a hit from the mines closure in the 80’s, social deprivation took its toll.  

It’s our job to understand the complexities of living in Wales, to ensure each of these 137 young people have access to specialist services.

How we’re influencing Welsh cancer policy for TYAs

Our work in the Policy team is all about advocating for the needs of young people, and ensuring we’re in the right place with the right people to make our voice heard.

In 2016, the Welsh Government published a Cancer Delivery Plan for Wales 2016-2020, which set out some broad recommendations on how to support young people with cancer. Since then a lot has happened, and the Welsh Government have shown real engagement with getting vital TYA services on the map.

We’ve been a member of the Wales Cancer Alliance (WCA) since 2014 and recently Sasha, our Head of Policy, has been made vice-chair (congratulations Sasha!). The WCA is made up of cancer charities who work with the Welsh Government and NHS to improve cancer services, ranging from prevention to end of life care. Earlier this year Teenage Cancer Trust and CLIC Sargent teamed up to update the WCA’s policy position on children, teenagers and young adults. This was a fantastic opportunity to put forward our key calls to action on ensuring all commitments to TYA cancer services are accountable and that services can be compared nationally in order to improve standards.

We recently met with the Wales Cancer Network (WCN) to discuss how we can work together to increase MDT referrals for young people with cancer. Since 2016 the WCN has been working in partnership with the Welsh Government, charitable organisations and bodies delivering and supporting cancer services in Wales. This year the WCN developed a TYA clinical steering group, offering us the chance to advocate for young people with cancer on a national scale.

Our funded staff are a key component in raising the profile of TYA services across their regions;  Wales have a  Lead Cancer Nurse in every health board across the country, and they meet as a group to share best practice and drive service improvements. Our funded TYA Senior Nurse, Mary Harness, has contributed to this group, to ensure the specific needs of young people are not forgotten.

What’s next?

Having a seat at the table in the WCA and WCN is incredibly valuable and we’ll continue to champion the needs of young people with cancer in Wales in this way. As Vice-Chair of the WCA, Sasha will soon be meeting with Vaughan Gething, the Cabinet Secretary for Health, Well-being and Sport, which is a great opportunity to ensure TYA cancer services in Wales are on the Government’s agenda.

We will also be at the Wales Cancer Conference in November, talking all things TYA cancer to people from across the sector. Come and say hi!

Teenage Cancer Trust services in Wales

We opened the doors to our TYA specialist unit in Cardiff in 2009 and we currently fund 2 expert members of staff there. We’ve also recently recruited a Regional Services Manager specifically for Wales and Northern Ireland who will support the staff and delivery of TYA services in both countries.

If you've got any questions or thoughts about our work in Wales, you can Tweet me @Elyse_James or get in touch with the Policy team via email.