Written Assembly Questions tabled on 10 February 2016 for answer on 17 February 2016
R - Signifies the Member has declared an interest.
W - Signifies that the question was tabled in Welsh.
(Self-identifying Question no. shown in brackets)
Written Questions must be tabled at least five working days before they are to be answered. In practice, Ministers aim to answer within seven/eight days but are not bound to do so. Answers are published in the language in which they are provided, with a translation into English of responses provided in Welsh.
David Melding (South Wales Central): How is the Welsh Government making adult learning available and accessible to people with disabilities seeking employment? (WAQ69788)
Answer received on 17 february 2016
The Deputy Minister for Skills and Technology (Julie James):
Nearly all FE institutions offer provision for young people with learning difficulties and/or disabilities (LLDD). This includes discrete provision, typically at entry level or level 1, which helps young people prepare for work or to move onto mainstream learning opportunities, such as vocational programmes which prepare young people for work in their chosen field.
Colleges also provide support for LLDD to access vocational or general educational programmes alongside their peers. For instance, Additional Learning Support (ALS) funding is provided to FE institutions to help them make their programmes accessible for LLDD. This funding can contribute towards the costs of providing additional support necessary to make college provision accessible to learners and can be used to pay for additional support as required, such as 1:1 support in class, additional tutorial support, or specialist support. It can also include technical equipment such as specialist software.
The Welsh Government also provides a range of additional support with a particular focus on employability that is accessible to people with disabilities. For instance, our Work Based Learning (WBL) suite of employability programmes, consisting of Traineeships (aged 16-18), Work Ready (aged 18 plus) and Apprenticeships (all-age), aim to support individuals to enter employment or learning at a higher level. These schemes are accessible to all irrespective of their personal circumstances.
WBL Providers are also able to claim ALS funding to assist them with the costs of securing the necessary technical or human support, to make their provision accessible to learners with learning difficulties and/or disabilities.
Additionally, we require our contracted WBL providers to demonstrate their commitment to increasing the numbers of individuals from under-represented groups, including disability groups, onto our programmes.
In addition our European Social Fund (ESF) programmes also provide opportunities for people with disabilities to gain the relevant experience and qualifications to enter employment. For example, our Communities for Work programme aims to tackle long term worklessness in some of our most deprived communities, offering mentoring and employment support to a range of participants, including those with work limiting health conditions or disabilities. There is also employment support available for those out of work and in work through the Welsh Government's Healthy Working Wales programme, providing peer mentoring and specialist employment services to achieve employment outcomes for people aged 25+ with substance misuse and/or mental health issues.
David Melding (South Wales Central): How does the Welsh Government support networking and sharing of skills and resources among start-up businesses in Wales? (WAQ69789)
Answer received on 17 February 2016
The Minister for the Economy, Science and Transport (Edwina Hart): The Welsh Government provides a range of networking opportunities through its Business Wales Start Up service including Workshops, community development and events and it is seen as a key objective for development under Wales Entrepreneurship Acceleration programme.
To provide a recent example, on 15 February, Welsh businesses had an opportunity to attend an enterprise and collaboration event in London to meet and work with senior members of high profile companies such as Microsoft, Twitter, Facebook and Google, as well as visit their London offices and innovative spaces. The collaboration is the result of a significant partnership between the Welsh Government's Business Wales Accelerated Growth Programme, part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund, Wales' largest innovation centre - Welsh ICE, Cardiff University, Cardiff Council and Cardiff Start. It is designed to foster trade, as well as broker prosperous and highly sought after networking connections and learning opportunities.
David Melding (South Wales Central): How is the Welsh Government reducing the distances cancer patients must travel for treatment? (WAQ69786)
Answer received on 26 February 2016
The Deputy Minister for Health (Vaughan Gething): Our Cancer Delivery Plan is committed to a person-centred approach to cancer care. It includes the commitment to redesign services to meet people's ongoing needs as locally as possible, while still meeting the national cancer standards.
Some aspects of cancer care are highly complex and patients will need to travel to regional specialist centres to ensure the best standards of care and the best possible patient outcomes.
However, we remain committed to support people to access more care locally. Examples include the Macmillan primary care oncology programme; mobile chemotherapy and lymphedema services; telemedicine services in rural areas such as West Wales, as well as the Transforming Cancer Care programme which aims to provide a 'hub and spoke' approach to future specialist cancer care across South Wales. This programme puts the patient at the centre of a new collaborative, 24/7 cancer service, being treated as close to home as possible, utilising a new cancer centre at Velindre with a number of outreach clinics offering cancer treatments.
David Melding (South Wales Central): How does the Welsh Government ensure referrals to cancer specialists are made promptly at the primary-care level? (WAQ69787)
Answer received on 24 February 2016
The Minister for Health and Social Services (Mark Drakeford): In 2014/15, almost 75,000 people were referred by their GP to a consultant with a suspicion of cancer. Of these less than 10% will be confirmed as having cancer and will need to commence treatment within 62 days. The first meeting with the consultant should take place within 10 working days of referral and a patient should begin definitive treatment within 62 days. Performance against the Urgent Suspected Cancer referral target is captured by each health board and reported nationally every month.
A number of pieces of work are underway to support health boards to meet this target. The GP contract includes cancer as a national priority area and we are working with the NHS in Wales on implementation of the NICE guideline on recognition and referral for suspected cancer. In addition, the Cancer Implementation Group is working with Macmillan on the implementation of a primary care oncology programme, Framework for Cancer, which aims to create a community of practice at local level. Cwm Taf University Health Board is also piloting a single suspected cancer pathway and the Cancer Implementation Group has made better access to diagnostics a national priority area. Most recently, health boards have produced 100-day plans with an emphasis on eliminating waits over 62 days and completing diagnosis to treatment within referral times.