Labour attacks Theresa May over 'unprecedented failure' on cancer treatment

Posted On: 
11th August 2017

Labour has accused the Government of presiding over a “staggering failure” on cancer treatment. 

Jonathan Ashworth on the BBC's Sunday Politics

The opposition has highlighted figures showing huge increases in the number of patients being forced to wait for cancer treatment or their first specialist consultation.

Shadow Health Secretary Jonathan Ashworth said Theresa May had overseen “unprecedented” problems.

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Last year, more than 26,000 patients waited longer than the 62-day standard for cancer treatment to start after an urgent referral from their GP – an increase of 87% on the number in 2011/12.

The proportion of patients being treated within the target time has gone from 87.5% five years ago to 81.8% now as a result of a greater number of referrals overall.

Over 105,000 patients had to wait more than two weeks for a consultant appointment after being referred by their GP in 2016/17, a rise of 127% on 2011/12.

Mr Ashworth said: “Theresa May’s first year in office has been characterised by unprecedented numbers of cancelled operations and delayed cancer treatments.

“Her staggering failure to properly support cancer services has placed entirely unnecessary mental and physical strain on thousands of families, as well as on our overstretched and undervalued cancer workforce.

“Frankly, cancer patients and their loved ones are being let down by this Government.

“This disgraceful situation cannot be allowed to continue and one year into her premiership, the Prime Minister must finally take urgent action to ensure cancer treatment remains world class in our NHS.”

The analysis forms part of a concerted Labour campaign on the National Health Service.

Jeremy Corbyn yesterday visited a hospital in Cornwall, where he seized on newly-released figures from NHS England showing monthly A&E waiting time targets had not been met for two years.

The Labour leader is expected to intervene again on further visits to the south-west today.