“Imminent” announcement about controversial Velindre project expected

An announcement from the Welsh Government about the controversial plans for a new cancer centre in Whitchurch is “imminent”, according to a source at Velindre.

Plans to build the new facility on the green space of the Whitchurch Northern Meadows have split the community, leading to divisive campaigns.

Although the land is owned by Cardiff and Vale University Health Board, a local campaign group called ‘Save the Northern Meadows’ has called for the centre to be built elsewhere.

Last week, three Conservative Councillors from Whitchurch and Tongwynlais sent a letter to Vaughan Gething, the Welsh Health Minister, asking him to “pause progress” of the project.

The four-page letter, which was signed by Cllr Linda Morgan, Cllr Mike Phillips, and Cllr Mia Rees, says that engagement with the wider community was “paused too soon” and that concerns from respected health clinicians had not been listened to.

In an interview with CJS News, Cllr Mia Rees acknowledged the need for a new cancer facility in South East Wales, but believes that the proposed clinical model “is not the best model for Velindre going forward”. She wants the Health Minister to consider “all of the evidence in front of him” before pushing ahead on a “flawed project” which is going to cost the taxpayer over £200m.

In response, a source at Velindre said that the existing facilities are “over 60 years old” and that while patient experience is good, the current state of the hospital is “not optimal”. The corridors at Velindre have been unable to meet infection control measures during the COVID-19 pandemic.

It was also mentioned that any delay to the project would negatively affect patient care for the people of South East Wales. Around 70% of Velindre’s patients come from outside of Cardiff.

The source concluded: “Patients should be cared for closer to home whenever possible” and that “Velindre should be seen as part of a network of cancer facilities across South East Wales”.