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Swansea pioneer awarded outstanding achievement at Wales' first cancer awards


Moondance Cancer Initiative has recognised one individual and three teams from Swansea for their achievements in cancer services at Wales’ first cancer awards.

A special accolade was given to Dr Heather Wilkes for her outstanding contribution in bringing Wales’ first Rapid Diagnosis Centre to Swansea Bay.

She was among the winners from Swansea Bay University Health Board (SBUHB) who scooped up a total of four awards for their brave work and dedication towards improving cancer services in Wales.

The Moondance Cancer Awards aim to celebrate and spotlight people across NHS Wales and its partners who have maintained and innovated cancer services despite the extraordinary circumstances of the last two years.

Discussing the Outstanding Achievement Award, Martin Bevan, Secondary Care clinical lead for the RDC, Swansea Bay University Health Board said: "Heather is the pioneer of Rapid Diagnostic Centre services in Wales, if it hadn’t been for her work, the first RDC would not have been set up locally in Swansea, and hence there wouldn’t have been a roll-out throughout the Wales for the further establishment of RDCs.

"We need determination and drive to successfully deliver the full benefits of a project like the RDCs, and that’s the value of characters like Heather. She’s a very deserving winner.”

Dr Heather Wilkes said: “I’m absolutely overwhelmed to be awarded this accolade, it’s wonderful, and I’m blown away by the support and the recognition we’ve received. We set up the first RDC in Neath Port Talbot, and it was such a success it was too good not to share and push across the rest of Wales, which is the whole purpose of innovation, to share the benefit of a successful project.

"I feel honoured to be recognised for starting something, but above all to have been given the opportunity to help other people realise the benefits of this model, to help support them to do the same, and to have been a part of such a fantastic team with the RDCs.”

Joining Dr Heather Wilkes’ outstanding award is the Ten Top Tips team at SBUHB, working alongside Wales Cancer Network and Public Health Wales, who were named winners of the Achievement award for better patient experience for their development of guidelines surrounding the language used for cancer prognosis.

The SYMPLIFY study - run by Swansea Bay University Health Board, Velindre Cancer Care and Health Care Research Wales - won the Innovation award in early detection and diagnosis for the development of a multi-cancer early detection test.

Also named winners were the South Wales Lung Cancer Collaboration (right), run between Swansea Bay and Cardiff and Vale University Health Board.

This year’s winners were selected by a judging panel of experts and leaders within health care including: Professor Tom Crosby, Cancer Clinical Director for Wales; Professor Lord Darzi, Director of the Institute for Global Health Innovation, Imperial College; Claire Birchall, Director of Wales Cancer Network and Professor Jared Torkington, Clinical Director for Moondance Cancer Initiative.

Moondance Cancer Initiative exists to find, fund and fuel brilliant people and brave ideas to make Wales a world leader in cancer survival. There are currently 18 active projects being funded by the Initiative across Wales including the expansion of the Rapid Diagnosis Centre in Swansea Bay and the introduction of transnasal endoscopy.

Commenting on the Moondance Cancer Awards, Dr Megan Mathias, Chief Executive of Moondance Cancer Initiative said: "The awards were created to both celebrate and thank the people who have dedicated their time to improving and pioneering detection, diagnosis and treatment pathways across cancer services in Wales.

"We hope that by shining a spotlight on these people, we can help inspire tomorrow's solutions for survival. We’re so pleased that so many people from across health care in Wales came to celebrate with us.

“These awards really showcase that improvement is both possible and is happening across Wales’ cancer services. At Moondance, we find, fund and fuel brilliant people with brave ideas to improve cancer outcomes for Wales. If you, or your team, is interested in discussing an idea, please get in touch with us, we’d love to hear from you.”

The winners of the Moondance Cancer Awards are:

Response to Covid 

Protective elective surgery - Cardiff & Vale UHB 


Working Together

South Wales lung cancer collaboration - Swansea Bay UHB & Cardiff & Vale UHB 

Better Patient Experience

Ten top tips team - Wales Cancer Network, Public Health Wales, Swansea Bay UHB 

Tenovus Cancer Care

Public awareness and engagement 

Cancer Awareness Campaign Group - Cancer Research Wales, Wales Cancer Network & Cancer Research UK 


Pioneering Innovation

Innovation in early detection and diagnosis

The SYMPLIFY study - Swansea Bay UHB, Velindre CC & HCRW 

Innovation in treatment

All Wales Genomics Oncology Group - All Wales Medical Genomics Services


Virtual Assessment Patient Pathway - Velindre


Innovation: Independent Sector  

Transnasal endoscopy -Olympus Medical, Cardiff & Vale UHB, Cwm Taf Morgannwg UHB 


Innovation: Workforce 

Acute oncology ANP workforce resilience framework - Velindre 


Emerging Leaders

Management and Administration

Dr Rachel Gemine, Deputy Head of TriTech Institute, Hywel Dda UHB 


Non-Medical & Nursing 

Jackie Pottle, Macmillan AHP Lead, Betsi Cadwaladr UHB 


Dr Hasan Haboubi, Consultant Gastroenterologist, Cardiff & Vale UHB 


Outstanding Contribution
Dr Heather Wilkes, Swansea Bay University Health Board

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