In a reassertion of the ridiculous, health minister Eluned Morgan persists with her daft insistence that people in Mid Wales are perfectly relaxed about having to trek to the other end of the country to access an early-warning clinic for patients suspected of having cancer.

Hywel Dda health board was told by the government 23 months ago to set up so-called rapid diagnosis clinics (RDCs) and, crucially, to guarantee easy access to this innovative service regardless of where patients live.

It has failed dismally to deliver on that instruction. Since October 2021, just one such clinic has been set up - at Prince Philip Hospital, Llanelli, a 120-mile round trip from Aberystwyth and much further than that for numerous other towns and villages north and east.

Yet RDCs are invaluable. At the end of a single day at such a clinic, patients will get results of tests and a likely diagnosis, together with a referral to a specialist, a plan for more tests or reassurance if results are normal.

Eluned Morgan is thus presiding over a system which ensures nothing even faintly approaching equality of access.

Ceredigion MS Elin Jones strongly backs this column’s demand for an RDC to be set up at Bronglais Hospital but is being stonewalled by the health board and the minister.

Morgan tells her: “I understand your concern about access and travel arrangements to the rapid diagnostic centre in Llanelli… An RDC provides an additional referral option for GPs when a patient does not meet the criteria for suspected cancer referral, but the GP still suspects cancer.

“Evaluation shows them to be very popular with patients and I find it to be the case that patients are prepared to travel for a much better service such as this.”

This latter point is patent nonsense. To the extent that patients are “prepared to travel” it will be because they have no choice but to spend an arduous day getting to Llanelli from northern Ceredigion, southern Gwynedd or western Powys. Such a journey will be possible only if they have a car, or a friend or relative prepared to ferry them down to South Wales and back. Many patients are too poor to run a car, and public transport may well either be too costly, or impractical because neither bus nor train will get them there and back in a day.

Is the health minister really so out of touch as to be oblivious to such predicaments?

At the same time, in referring to the “much better service” offered by an RDC inaccessible to countless numbers of patients, she effectively admits that she thus presides over a classic postcode lottery in which the losers are penalised because they happen to live in rural Mid Wales.

Morgan must urgently turn her attention to 2015’s Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act, which guarantees collective human rights. Without doubt, failure to ensure the establishment of a rapid diagnosis clinic at Bronglais Hospital flies in the face of this landmark legislation.

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