Cancer diagnosis statistics are 'shameful' under this Government
These are all shameful statistics; ones which we could easily get right if the cancer workforce had the time, resources and support to truly fight cancer, says Shadow Minister for Public Health Sharon Hodgson MP.
This week, we finally saw the publication of the year-long delayed Cancer Workforce Plan which coincided with Britain Against Cancer’s Conference.
With such huge pressures affecting patients across the country, it’s incredible that it’s taken so long for the Government to publish the Plan. Now that it’s here it is essential that Ministers support it with the funding needed to make its ambitions a reality.
If the NHS is to deliver for patients and fulfil the Cancer Strategy for England by 2021, then there is still plenty more to be done.
We are still waiting on a report on nursing and cancer – expected for spring 2018 – and the impact of technological and scientific innovation to be seen in the summer of 2018.
Let’s hope there is no set backs on these pieces of work like we have seen with the Workforce Plan.
What we also must see from the Government is the proper funding and support of the workforce to ensure cancer diagnosis, care and outcomes are improved and finally meet, and even surpass, those of our European counterparts.
Currently, under Jeremy Hunt’s watch, we have seen a failure to meet the 62-day wait target, which has now not been met for over two years, and more than 100,000 patients waiting over two weeks for a GP urgent referral; the highest figure on record and two and a half times more than the same period in 2009/10.
Even for specific cancers, the stats are worrying. Take ovarian cancer where 43% of women diagnosed with this cancer have to visit their GP three times before being referred for tests and for lung cancer, 35% of patients are diagnosed after presenting at A&E.
These are all shameful statistics; ones which we could easily get right if the cancer workforce had the time, resources and support to truly fight cancer. The standards have been stalled under this Government as they continually fail to support our NHS and the funding it needs.
NHS England have already warned that treatment targets cannot be met and other benchmarks and standards may be at risk because of the poor funding settlement by the Chancellor.
The cancer workforce does incredible work day-in and day-out to support patients. It is high-time we actually supported staff too.
With the deadline for 2020/21 fast approaching, action is needed to achieve the Cancer Strategy’s goals. Labour understands this urgency and will make beating cancer one of our priorities in Government with properly resourced cancer services across the country.
Sharon Hodgson is the Shadow Minister for Public Health and is the Labour Member of Parliament for Washington and Sunderland West