Our recent Freedom of Information request to the NHS showed access to the latest diagnostic scans before a biopsy was worse in Wales than the other home nations. Find out why, what we're doing about it and how you can help.
Only three out of seven Welsh Health Boards are providing mpMRI before biopsy. Out of those, only two – Aneurin Bevan and Cwm Taf – are providing mpMRI to a high enough standard to safely rule men out of having a biopsy. So that means there has been no improvement in mpMRI provision since the Boards last responded to our Freedom of Information request in Autumn 2016.
Last year, the Welsh Urology Board recommended mpMRI before biopsy to PROMIS trial standards be implemented across Wales. But this recommendation is considered advice and there is no requirement on Health Boards to act on it.
Despite the health minister, Vaughn Gething, saying he expects the Health Boards to amend their clinical practice to reflect any changes to NICE guidelines, these are currently being reviewed and will not published until at least April 2019. Furthermore, there's currently no indication that the Welsh government will be making the resources and support available that are critical to rolling out high-quality mpMRI before biopsy across Wales.
Some hospitals are concerned that the demand for mpMRI before biopsy could outstrip their scanner capacity, putting greater pressure on already stretched radiology services. The additional time needed and workforce capabilities to deliver the more advanced scans are also concerns.
It’s unacceptable that men in Wales should be denied the more accurate and potentially less invasive prostate cancer diagnosis that is becoming increasingly available to men in England and Scotland. This inequality cannot be allowed to continue.
The Health Minister must take urgent action to support the widespread implementation of mpMRI before biopsy across Wales. This diagnostic technique is better at detecting harmful prostate cancers and without it there is a risk these could be missed, preventing these men from the opportunity of potentially curative treatment.
We are working in collaboration with the Welsh Planned Care Programme team and Welsh Urology Board to support Welsh Health Boards in the adoption of high-quality, pre-biopsy mpMRI.
Our support will help Health Boards to overcome scanner capacity and workforce issues. We're also showcasing best practice of mpMRI before biopsy at Aneurin Bevan University Health Board (see film above), sharing their learning with other centres across Wales to support their implementation plans.