Vaughan Gething, Cabinet Secretary for Health and Social Services
Diagnostic imaging services play a vital role in the early and accurate identification of diseases to ensure patients receive the right treatment at the earliest opportunity. These services are generally provided by hospital-based Radiology Departments (X-Ray) through a range of technologies including: radiographs (x-rays), ultrasound, Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) and Positron Emission Tomography – Computed Tomography (PET-CT).
Wales also enjoys a leading position at the forefront of innovative imaging facilities, with a strong international reputation stemming from the work being done at Cardiff University’s Brain Research Imaging Centre (CUBRIC) and the Wales Research and Diagnostic Positron Emission Tomography Imaging Centre (PETIC). The NHS Wales National Imaging Academy in Pencoed will also be open for business in April 2018. It is important that we build upon these successes and work with our partners in addressing service level challenges.
Imaging services face a number of significant challenges such as the increasing demand for non-invasive and accurate imaging modalities; workforce issues related to recruitment, training and retirement; the need to diagnose conditions quicker and; new imaging techniques and technologies. Such challenges can lead to unnecessary delays in diagnoses and treatment and there is compelling evidence of the need to transform the provision of imaging services here in Wales.
To respond to these challenges it is essential that we develop a coordinated implementation plan for imaging services in NHS Wales. To prepare the ground for this, a Welsh Government-led Imaging Taskforce has come together to prepare a strategic, forward looking, Statement of Intent (SoI).
Today I have published the Statement of Intent for Imaging which sets out in more detail the work that will be developed under 8 key priority areas:
- public involvement and engagement
- workforce development
- informatics and information
- research and innovation, and
This work will inform and shape an implementation plan that aims to deliver sustainable high-quality imaging services in NHS Wales that is fit for the future. The plan will:
- set out how the National Imaging Academy and Health Education and Improvement Wales will work together to ensure that the imaging workforce is flexible and sustainable
- identify priorities for, and improve co-ordination of, investment in imaging equipment
- strengthen the evidence-base of imaging services to promote quality improvement and prudent healthcare
- develop an all-Wales Network to ensure service delivery is integrated and equitable
- enhance IT systems to enable better and more consistent data reporting;
- strengthen collaboration for research and innovation to address service challenges
- promote excellence by national and international bench-marking of imaging services, and,
- support improvements to the imaging service’s leadership capacity and accountability.
The implementation plan will bring many benefits for patients, families and the population of Wales, including:
- a more efficient and prudent imaging service, directing resources to where they are most needed, and,
- earlier, more accurate diagnosis, supporting early intervention and better targeted treatments, resulting in better responses to treatment, fewer side effects and quicker recovery from illness.
I have asked the Imaging Taskforce to continue its good work and to help develop the implementation plan. The Taskforce composed of experts from NHS Wales and Welsh Government officials and led by Dr Rob Orford, Chief Scientific Adviser (Health) will engage with key stakeholders across Wales in the development of the plan. I have asked the Taskforce to report back to me by summer 2018.