Today I have a meeting with Eluned Parrott who's the AM covering the area served by Cardiff and the Vale NHS Trust.
Eluned has had a long-standing interest in cancer. This week she has shown an interest in cancer research and has visited the Cancer Research UK stand at the Welsh Assembly.
She is in for a shock when I tell her that ovarian cancer research projects at the Velindre Hospital at at a halt because the oncologist interested in research into molecular characteristics of tumours is on maternity leave and she hasn't been replaced. The BriTROC 2013 project is currently inviting new centres to join their research project and I'd like to ask why Wales isn't joining. My oncologist has been obliged to take on her colleague's patients and is stretched to breaking point. Plans to join this important project have been abandoned.
She might be as disappointed as I that Cardiff and the Vale have let slip the only radical surgeon they've ever had on their team and the NHS Trust is still scratching its head about the Desktop Trial which operates across many centres in the UK. This trial offers radical surgery along with chemotherapy on first relapse of ovarian cancer.
My take on it is this NHS Trust is strapped for cash. Cuts to staff budgets are leaving oncologists overworked and stressed with no time to take on research work. There would of course be a cost implication if they'd kept a radical surgeon on the team. It would raise patient expectations. It would lead to more complex and a greater number of surgical procedures for women with ovarian cancer. Is cost holding back the Wales NHS? Are we victims of parsimony or victims of a government that does not prioritise health?
The Minister for Health for Wales said most patients aren't as discerning as I. Well, I'm not only discerning. I'm articulate and I'm angry. I shall be taking my thoughts and some evidence to the Assembly Member today. Alas I have only circumstantial evidence. I shall be asking her to put her political weight to these questions and demand answers. Hopefully I shall be speaking on behalf of you all.