Page last updated at 16:35 GMT, Friday, 14 May 2010 17:35 UK

'Key worker' for cancer patients in Wales

Surgeons examine chest x-ray (generic)
Welsh health boards must ensure key workers are in place by March 2011

Every cancer patient in Wales will be allocated a key worker to co-ordinate their care, it has been announced.

The Welsh Assembly Government said it will mean they will know who to contact at all times should the need arise during their treatment.

It is one of a number of measures aimed at improving care and support for people surviving cancer.

They have been developed by the Cancer Services Co-ordinating Group working with cancer specialists and patients.

Health Minister Edwina Hart said health boards will be required to ensure the key workers are in place in Wales by the end of March 2011.

They will be the most appropriate NHS worker, depending on where the patient is in their cancer treatment.

Mrs Hart said: "I see the development of a key worker role as central to improving care as many cancer patients feel that once they have finished their main treatment, whether that is an operation, radiotherapy or chemotherapy, that they are abandoned.

"In addition to investment in more staff and new equipment to speed up access to diagnosis and treatment, we are also investing in education and prevention to reduce the incidence of cancer in the long term.

'Wealth of experience'

"This includes measures to educate people about the importance of a healthy lifestyle and diet as well as the introduction on the ban on smoking in public places, the new cervical cancer vaccine and the roll-out of the bowel cancer screening programme."

Labour made the pledge of a key worker for every cancer patient in its general election manifesto for Wales as health is a devolved issue.

Cath Lindley, Macmillan Cancer Support's general manager for Wales, said: "Macmillan welcomes the Welsh Assembly Government's commitment to addressing the ongoing needs of people living with and after cancer.

"We have a wealth of experience and expertise in this area of cancer.

"Macmillan is looking forward to working with the assembly government to develop the concept of a key worker into a role that meets people's health and social care needs both during and after treatment."

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