Over the last week, we’ve been busy meeting Assembly Members (AMs) to get them fired up about the importance of quality care for men with prostate cancer in Wales. We’ve also been lobbying AMs and the parties about what pledges they will make to support men with prostate cancer when they write their manifestos for next year’s Assembly elections.
On Wednesday (24 February), we set out in the ManVan with our friends from Tenovus Cancer Care – the ManVan is also part funded by the Movember Foundation – and parked outside the Senedd to meet with Assembly Members from all four Welsh parties. We talked to them about the great work the ManVan has achieved over the last year, bringing one-to-one counselling, couples’ counselling, group support and welfare rights advice to men who live in deprived or rural parts of Wales.
We met with thirteen AMs over the course of the day, and we certainly grabbed their attention. Nick Ramsey AM (Conservative, Monmouth) praised the work of the ManVan during the Assembly’s Plenary meeting that afternoon, and also asked how the Welsh Government is supporting men living with prostate cancer.
His question was answered in part the next day when (thanks to our efforts) there was a short debate specifically on prostate cancer, led by Andrew RT Davies AM (Leader of the Welsh Conservatives), who won brownie points by wearing his ‘Man of Men’ badge! He talked about the importance of early detection and pointed out that Wales is now the only UK nation without a cancer awareness campaign. He also emphasised the beneficial role a Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS) can play in helping men cope with a prostate cancer diagnosis.
Other AMs raised the question of access to robotic surgery, the negative impact of side-effects from prostate cancer treatments on quality of life and the importance of support services. The debate was concluded by Vaughan Gething AM (Deputy Minister for Health) who had last month pledged his own support for Men United at Welsh Labour conference. Mr Gething gave the Welsh Government’s perspective on progress that’s being made on support services in Wales and the work that remains to be done.
It was great to hear prostate cancer being discussed by Welsh influencers and policy-makers, and we’ll be following up to make sure that men’s treatment, care and support doesn’t slip back down the priority list for Welsh politicians and health providers. We will also be keeping up our conversation with all four parties in Wales to call for more consistent support for men across the country.