BREAST care services for Gwent patients are set to be transformed - potentially inside two years - if a plan for a £10.2 million unit at Ysbyty Ystrad Fawr (YYF) in Ystrad Mynach is approved by Welsh Government.

The project would enable all diagnostic and outpatient breast services and the vast majority of breast surgery to be provided in one place, with a range of benefits for patients.

And if a timetable laid out in an Aneurin Bevan University Health Board report is met, the unit could be completed by May 2022.

The idea of creating a breast care 'centre of excellence' for Gwent has been around for a number of years, but only now has a formal business case been approved at health board level for submission to the Welsh Government.

Health board chiefs believe that what is referred to in the business case as a Unified Breast Unit will enable patients to access a broader range of integrated services, tailored to meet specific needs, which would improve access, waiting times for diagnosis and treatment, and outcomes.

The project has been developed against a backdrop of rising incidence of breast cancer and year-on-year increases in outpatient referrals to the breast service, the latter up 45 per cent - to almost 7,700 - in just six years.


It would also, according to the business case, increase from 30 per cent to 70 per cent the range of breast surgery that can be performed as day cases, and end the need for waiting list initiatives.

Currently too, the breast service is run at three hospitals, the Royal Gwent, Nevill Hall, and YYF. Concentrating consultations, tests and most surgery on one site would mean recruitment - particularly of radiology consultants - and retention issues could be addressed.

The ability to offer a one-stop diagnostic breast clinic is now a "fundamental requirement" for hospitals providing breast cancer services, according to the business case. This is not available at the moment for patients in Gwent, but will be under the Unified Breast Unit plan.

Existing diagnostic and outpatient breast services at the Royal Gwent and Nevill Hall would cease under the Unified Breast Unit plan, with all but the most complex breast surgery taking place at YYF.

Space at the Royal Gwent and Nevill Hall would then be reused as part of wider service changes that will follow the opening of the Grange University Hospital.