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Mon 22 May 2023

Putting Women with Cancer at the Heart of the Senedd’s Gynaecological Cancers Inquiry

We have been engaged with the Senedd’s Health and Social Care Committee gynaecological cancers inquiry since the initial call for evidence in October 2022. 

The inquiry was set up as a result of shocking waiting times for diagnosis and treatment. In parts of Wales only 1 in 4 women were getting their treatment within the Welsh Government’s 62-day waiting time target, far below the national average.

The inquiry is considering the experiences of women with symptoms of gynaecological cancer, how they are listened to and treated by healthcare professionals, and how services empower, care for and look after women diagnosed with a gynaecological cancer (to ensure their physical, psychological and practical needs are met).

On behalf of Tenovus Cancer Care I reached out to officials from the Health and Social Care Committee to start a conversation about the ways in which the voices and experience of women with gynaecological cancers could be captured and fed into the process in the most sensitive, yet impactful, way possible.  Women may have been through significant trauma through the course of their cancer diagnosis and treatment, and I felt that video evidence would help serve the purpose. 

Officials from the Senedd’s engagement team agreed with the approach and agreed to manage the interviews with women with a gynaecological cancer experience.  I agreed to reach out to 3rd sector charities, and the All-Wales Cancer Community, to see whether anyone wanted to share their story on film for Members of the Senedd to consider during the course of their inquiry.

Over the course of early 2023 a total of 4 women came forward to share their experiences. The Engagement team and the Health and Social Care Committee have been sensitive to the needs of women with a variety of needs concerning the production, distribution and broadcasting of the videos.  One woman wanted her video shown privately to MSs, that request was respected and facilitated.  Of the remaining three videos, two were introduced to the Committee by our Chief Executive, Judi Rhys MBE on the 27th April – in what we believe is a procedural first for the Health and Social Care Committee, possibly the Senedd’s Committee system over its 24 years. 


That is more powerful than any written evidence or anything anyone who can sit in front of us can provide. So, thank you to the bravery of everyone who took part in the evidence sessions, talking about their own experiences.”

Russell George MS, Chair of the Senedd’s Health and Social Care Committee, 10th May 2023

The final video was shown to the Committee during its evidence session with the Wales Cancer Alliance on the 10th May. We used our leadership of the Alliance to secure a seat for All-Wales Cancer Community member Claire O’Shea to respond to questions from the MSs on the committee, and for the 4th video to be broadcast.

The Committee is due to gather additional evidence from expert witnesses as well as Welsh Government officials and the Minister for Health, Eluned Morgan MS.  So far we have been impressed by the way in which women’s stories have been gathered and the sensitive way they have been shared. 

The stories scratch the surface. The experiences of the hundreds of women across Wales, with concerning changes to their body; receiving a diagnosis or going through the treatment for their gynaecological cancer treatment, are mixed, from the very good to the unacceptable. That kind of lottery must end.   

Our collective thanks to the four women who shared their - often traumatic – experiences.  They volunteered their time and drew on reserves of strength and resilience because they want to improve the system.

We want all stories to make a difference, helping to shape and transform the cancer services of the future.

By Greg Pycroft (Policy and Public Affairs Manager at Tenovus Cancer Care)

If you or someone you love has been affected by cancer, our free Support Line is there for you. Just call 0808 808 1010