Nick Thomas-Symonds MP has accepted an invitation from the Aneurin Bevan University Health Board (ABUHB) to become a patron of the “Friends of the Breast Unit for Aneurin Bevan University Health Board”, supporting their efforts to help fund an improved environment within the construction of the new Breast Care Unit for Aneurin Bevan University Health Board patients, including his constituents in Torfaen.

At present, the ABUHB breast care units are the busiest in Wales, seeing over 5,000 patients a year with around 500 cancers being diagnosed each year: one in eight men and women will be affected. To improve patient care, the ABUHB are building a “Centre for Excellence” at Ysbyty Ystrad Fawr which is due for completion in late 2020. The new unit will provide the best facilities for patients: dedicated diagnostic, treatment and counselling rooms designed to enable faster diagnosis. Treatment and follow-up care.

There is currently a fundraising appeal in progress to aid the construction by raising funds for additional items that the NHS are unable to provide. The ambitious campaign aims to raise £200,000 towards the unit’s enhanced facilities for thousands of women, men and their families, and there are plans to involve the whole community to reach the target.

As a key figure in the South Wales community, Mr. Thomas-Symonds is lending his support to this campaign and has been an active campaigner on cancer-related issues since his election in 2015. His work in 2016 improved access to repurposed drugs when Mr. Thomas-Symonds worked across parties in Parliament to amend the Access to Medical Treatments (Innovations) Bill utilising provisions of his own Private Members Bill which had been talked out only months earlier, to widen the use of repurposed drugs across the UK. Subsequently, the Welsh Government has announced that bisphosphonates, primarily used for osteoporosis, repurposed to prevent primary breast cancer to spreading to the bone in many patients, became available at the Velindre Cancer Centre from April 2018.

Other members of “The Friends of the ABUHB Breast Unit” are made up of breast cancer survivors, who have been through the breast service and feel passionate about having an improved service.

Glenda Lewis, Committee Member on the Friends of the Breast Unit for Aneurin Bevan University Health Board, said:

“Those of us who have had superb treatment over the years at both Royal Gwent and Nevill Hall hospital, will recognise the time has come for this wonderful opportunity to be realised. The centre of excellence unit has been a long-term dream of many people, including myself. The patient needs to be at the centre of everything that is being planned. We must think of new patients of all ages, who will be coming through the doors of the specialist unit. They, as we all do, deserve a calm and discreet environment to discuss the concerns, anxieties and fears experienced during this uncertain time.”

When asked about his campaigning work and his new role as Patron of the Friends of the Breast Unit, Mr. Thomas-Symonds stated:

“I lost my grandmother, Olwyn Thomas, to breast cancer just before my 18th birthday. My interest in politics stemmed from conversations with her. When I was first elected an MP in 2015 I was determined to make a difference for cancer patients. I’m honoured to have been asked to become Patron, and will be doing all I can to make the very best breast cancer facilities available for breast cancer patients, including my constituents in Torfaen.”

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