Hi-Tech Prostate Cancer Treatments in Wales Very Expensive – Welsh men must get treated in England

January 31, 2013 by  
Filed under Prostate Cancer News

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The use of robotic surgery for treating prostate cancer in Wales is limited and the procedure could cost about 15,000 GBP where it is available.

This fact has become quite an issue and a challenge for the health authorities. On the contrary, in nearby England, there are lots of robotic facilities that men who suffer from prostate cancer in the country can take advantage of.

This unsatisfactory situation has raised concern from surgeons and other concerned persons in Wales. According to Andy Thomas, a consultant urological surgeon at the Princess of Wales Hospital, Bridgend, “Men in Wales with prostate cancer are being subjected to an appalling form of postcode lottery.

“Elsewhere in Europe and in the United States, the treatment of prostate cancer by robot-assisted surgery is very common. In the US, 81% of all prostate surgery uses the da Vinci method.

“Belgium has 20 robots and England has 42. Yet currently Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland have none, although Scotland is due to get one shortly.

Men in Wales are having to pay £15,000 for state-of-the-art prostate cancer operations

Men in Wales are having to pay £15,000 for state-of-the-art prostate cancer operations (credit: Wales Online)

“If I think a patient would benefit from this kind of surgery, I have to refer them to Southmead Hospital in Bristol, where if they lived in England they would be able to get surgery at no cost under the NHS. If they live in Wales, however, will cost them £15,000.

“Last year 21% of the 378 patients who has prostate surgery at Southmead were from Wales. The NHS Trust is making so much money out of Welshmen that they can now afford to buy a second robot.

“Unfortunately, we have a third rate health service in Wales. There is no innovation fund available with which the service can buy new kit.

“Prostate cancer kills 550 men in Wales every year – it’s the biggest cancer killer for men. And every year there are 2,400 new cases of prostate cancer diagnosed in Wales.

“Da Vinci robots are not just used in prostate cancer surgery, but in other conditions too. People living here deserve to access the best kind of treatment. It is shocking that they have to pay thousands of pounds to get an operation that would be free the other side of the Severn Bridge.”

Mr Thomas has quite an interesting point in his statements above. The need for hi-tech robotic surgery in Wales can no longer be overemphasized. These and other facts have been published online via an article written by Martin Shipton on January 26, 2013 in “Wales Online”.

Further details on the online article reveal that plans for the purchase of robotic surgery facilities in Wales are in place. The following extract indicates that: Mr Thomas said there was a good case for two robots in South Wales and one in North Wales. As a trustee of the charity Prostate Cymru, he is involved in fundraising towards the cost of a da Vinci robot.

“We won’t be able to raise the entire purchase price of a robot – they cost about £1.7m to buy and, depending how much they are use, between £400,000 and £500,000 a year to run – but we can help towards it.”

Planned fundraising events include a dinner in Porthcawl Grand Pavilion on February 15 with tables hosted by Welsh rugby captains and a sponsored walk in Ecuador’s volcanic region in July.

Conclusively, the importance of robotic surgery for prostate cancer patients cannot be over emphasized. The treatment brings about low rates of side effects compared to traditional surgeries. There should be more efforts from the Welsh government to give priority to this technology in the country. Read the full article by Martin Shipton for more details.

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