Cancer charities urge the government not to let the survival rate drop

Cancer charities urge the government not to let the survival rate drop and to ‘turn a corner’ on the disease following the crippling toll of Covid-19 pandemic

  • The head of Cancer Research UK has pleaded with leaders to improve detection
  • The appeal by chief executive Michelle Mitchell supported by 49 other charities
  • Their letter has been sent to Boris Johnson, Rishi Sunak as well as to Sajid Javid

Leading charities today call on the Government to ‘turn the corner on cancer’ following the crippling toll of the pandemic.

In a hard-hitting letter, the head of Cancer Research UK pleads with leaders to improve detection, diagnosis and treatment to prevent survival rates from slipping backwards.

The appeal by chief executive Michelle Mitchell is supported by 49 other charities, which together form ‘One Cancer Voice’.

Their letter has been sent to Boris Johnson, Chancellor Rishi Sunak and Health Secretary Sajid Javid.

The group insists the Government must ‘urgently respond’ to the enormous challenge facing cancer services.

In a hard-hitting letter, the head of Cancer Research UK (pictured, Michelle Mitchel) pleads with leaders to improve detection, diagnosis and treatment to prevent survival rates from slipping backwards

Schools hit by vaccination delays

Pupils at more than two-thirds of schools are still waiting for Covid vaccinations, new figures suggest.

Head teachers warned the NHS is in danger of failing to meet its initial promise to offer jabs to all eligible children before October half term.

A survey of almost 4,000 state secondary school teachers in England by the educational app Teacher Tapp last week found only 19 per cent said pupils had started to be vaccinated.

Another 9 per cent said the programme would begin within days and 13 per cent expected vaccinations from Monday.

Fifty-four per cent simply stated ‘not yet’.

The NHS said yesterday: ‘In just two weeks hundreds of schools have already held vaccination clinics, with more than 160,000 children getting protected.’

Damning figures suggest nearly 45,000 fewer patients started treatment for cancer in the UK between April last year and this March compared with the same time pre-pandemic.

In July alone there were around 10,200 fewer people referred for urgent suspected cancer compared with what would have been expected if it hadn’t been for coronavirus.

And new calculations indicate that almost 55,000 cancer patients should have been diagnosed quicker or started their treatment sooner.

The percentage of patients who started their treatment within target times has fallen from 82.2 per cent in 2016 to 72.8 per cent this year.

The charities call for the Government to address these issues in the upcoming Spending Review, which sets out long-term plans for its budget.

They say outcomes for patients can be improved by increasing the cancer workforce and investing in kit, levelling up so poorer communities are no longer disproportionately affected, and strengthening funding for research and development.

Without action the current situation will only become worse, they warn. The number diagnosed with cancer is projected to go above 500,000 a year by 2035 – an increase of 40 per cent on 2015 levels.

And without proper investment, there is a ‘real danger’ the Government could fail to deliver on its commitment to improve cancer survival and to diagnose 75 per cent of cancer early by 2028.

Their letter has been sent to Boris Johnson (pictured), Chancellor Rishi Sunak and Health Secretary Sajid Javid

Last night Miss Mitchell said: ‘The pandemic has meant all aspects of cancer care have been disrupted with tens of thousands of people still undiagnosed, or waiting for tests and treatment.

‘But chronic underinvestment in staff and equipment has meant that cancer services were struggling even before the pandemic.

‘There is unacceptable inequality in cancer survival across the country and cancer waiting time targets have been missed for many years now.

‘Services simply can’t keep up with demand and, sadly, we’re facing the possibility that cancer survival could go backwards.

‘In the upcoming Comprehensive Spending Review, the Government has a golden opportunity to make big improvements.’

Other charities which have signed include Breast Cancer Now, Prostate Cancer UK, Ovarian Cancer Action, Pancreatic Cancer UK, Blood Cancer UK and Macmillan Cancer Support.

A Government spokesman said: ‘Most cancer services are back to or above pre-pandemic levels and we are providing record investment to tackle the backlog in the health service, to help deliver an extra 9million checks, scans, and operations for patients across the country.’

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