The Daily Telegraph

Reverse plan to scrap cancer backlog target, MPS demand

- By Laura Donnelly HEALTH EDITOR

MORE than 50 MPS are urging ministers to reverse their decision to scrap a 10-year plan to tackle cancer backlogs.

Last spring, Sajid Javid, at that time the health secretary, promised a “war on cancer” with a new vision to lead the world in the wake of the pandemic.

Last week the Government announced that the plan would be axed, along with separate strategies for mental health and dementia. Steve Barclay, the Health Secretary, has promised a “major conditions strategy”, which combines efforts on several fronts. Today leading oncologist­s, MPS and charities said they were deeply concerned by the lack of focus on cancer.

It follows warnings that about 17,000 fewer patients have started cancer treatment in England since the start of the pandemic, with far more cases spotted later.

Prof Pat Price, an oncologist from Imperial College London, and chairman of the charity Action Radiothera­py, said the backlogs in cancer were “the most deadly” of all the delays, urging ministers to give the matter more attention.

“By abandoning the dedicated cancer plan right in the middle of the worst cancer crisis ever, thousands more patients will die who do not need to,” she said, adding: “It is like sending the lifeboats home as the Titanic is sinking”.

Former party leaders are among the 51 MPS who have signed a letter urging the Government to change tack.

They include 23 Conservati­ve MPS, with Sir Iain Duncan-smith, the former leader, and Esther Mcvey, the former work and pensions secretary, among the signatorie­s, along with 12 Labour MPS, and those from other parties.

Tim Farron, former Lib Dem leader, and chairman of the all-party Parliament­ary Group for Radiothera­py, said: “There is an overwhelmi­ng level of frustratio­n among me and my colleagues at the lack of action.”

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesman said: “Cutting NHS waiting times is one of the key priorities and more patients are being seen and treated for cancer than ever before.

“We are determined to deliver the best outcomes for patients and we recently announced our Major Conditions Strategy covering six different conditions, including cancer. There are also now 92 community diagnostic centres open that have delivered over 2.9 million tests, scans and checks since July 2021.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from United Kingdom