A five-year, £80 million new treatment fund has now been launched in Wales in the hope of accelerating patient access to novel therapies.

Health Secretary Vaughan Gething said the fund will make a "huge difference" to patients, "ensuring NHS Wales is in the best possible position to provide the latest approved drugs".

Under the new structure, all health boards in Wales will be required to make available a medicine with a recommendation from the National Institute for Heath and Care Excellence or the All Wales Medicines Strategy Group no later than two months from the date final guidance is published, shortening the limit by a third.

Furthermore, health boards will now be expected to introduce NICE-recommended medicines at the first publication of the final guidance, rather than waiting for the final Technology Appraisal guidance published after the appeal period.

This new system will ensure that all NICE and AWMSG backed therapies will be available up to eight weeks earlier, the Welsh government noted.

A total of £12 million will be released to health boards with immediate effect, with a further £4 million being made available later; the fund will provide additional support of £16 million annually to fund the new structure.

"This significant investment will help remove uncertainties around funding for new treatments in the future and help the Welsh NHS prepare sustainable plans for the introduction of new medicines," noted Gething.

The Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry has welcomed the move. Dr Rick Greville, ABPI Director with responsibility for Wales, said the new fund "is great news for NHS patients in Wales and is the type of progressive policy which can make a real impact on patients' lives."

"It demonstrates the ambition of the Welsh Government to provide a quality health system across all disease areas, based on evidence and prudent principles."