With a Little Government Help We'll Save More Lives; Leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats Kirsty Williams Outlines How Wales Can Be a World Leader in Medical Research

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Byline: Kirsty William

EVERY year around 325,000 people are diagnosed with, and more than 157,000 people die from, cancer in the UK.

A diagnosis of cancer used to be seen as a death sentence but now we have the technology to fight and defeat more cases of cancer than ever before. But there is more we can do.

Last week I had the pleasure of attending an event in the Senedd, hosted by Cancer Research UK, emphasising the importance of clinical research and clinical trials. It was great to meet people doing work, here in Wales, right at the cutting edge of medical research and to meet patients benefiting from that research.

Clinical trials are absolutely crucial in the fight against diseases like cancer. Here in Wales we have some of the best medical research centres in the world doing groundbreaking research, but as politicians we have a lot more work to do to give them the support they need.

Clinical trials happen in three phases. At present the early stage (phase one) is proving to be the most difficult.

When laboratory testing shows that a new treatment might help treat cancer, phase one trials are done to look at doses, side effects and if the treatment shrinks the cancer.

I would like the Welsh Government to provide funding for strengthened infrastructure support for phase one trials so that Welsh patients can have timely local access to novel cancer treatments.

We need to ensure that Wales is part of a UK-wide approach to the regulation of clinical trials so that patients can access them as quickly as possible, and patients from Wales can also access clinical trials taking place throughout the UK.

At a bare minimum we need to make sure we have a Wales-wide approach to avoid the current awful situation where Welsh people are denied access to a trial because of which health board's catchment they fall under. …