I'm currently involved in organising what I have been told is the first-ever patient-led event where patients, rather than their representatives, will be voicing their opinion on Government policy and hopefully influencing the future cancer strategy for Wales. The event takes place just a few months before the Welsh Assembly elections next year.
Patients representing at least 30 different cancers will be setting out their pitch in the historic Pierhead Building opposite the Welsh Assembly Building in Cardiff Bay. Each patient will nominate the charity that supports them and on the day those charities will provide a member of staff to support the patient delegate, provide display materials and a contribution towards catering. Every Assembly Member and potential member will receive a personal invitation and we'll ask patients to back this up by emailing their AM to remind them.
The event is in the early planning stage and has already received the backing of the four main political parties who will send their Health Spokesperson to sit on the Q&A Panel. The Velindre NHS Trust have endorsed our event and many site-specific and general charities active in Wales have pledged their support. It's our chance as patients in Wales to have our say on the issues that are important to us with regard to our cancer care, but it's also an occasion to promote the work of the charities that support us.
The idea was born from the need to empower patients and to encourage them to have an opinion about their cancer care. There have been many inspirational leaders in this field such as Dr Atul Gawande in the US, and Dr Phil Hammond in the UK, and locally the NHS, and politicians are striving to engage patients and improve patient empowerment. A few patients got together recently and we decided the experts, the charities and professionals can only do so much and so the next step is ours to make.
We are really beginning to think it's going to be an exciting event. It has already attracted media interest and is likely to have a high profile. Let's hope it has good outcomes for the Government, the NHS and for patients and carers.
If anyone has friends or relatives in Wales who are living with cancer please let them know about our event so we can get as many different cancer sites as possible represented on the day.