Campaigners urge Government to appoint Minister of Cancer to end treatment crisis

Dr Hilary Jones discusses bowel cancer awareness acronym

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Medical experts, charities, MPs and patients joined a summit yesterday calling for action to tackle the backlog fuelled by the Covid-19 disruption. A report from the All-Party Parliamentary Groups for Radiotherapy and Health laid out recommendations, including greater investment in equipment for diagnostics and treatment. 

MP Tim Farron, chair of the APPG for Radiotherapy, said: “There is an unbelievable level of frustration in the cancer community, because this frightening backlog is a preventable crisis.

“They have all the expertise needed to bust the cancer backlog. But that can only happen if ministers are willing to accept there is a crisis, deliver vital investment in cancer services and act quickly.”

Disruption to care for the disease during the pandemic led to 40,000 fewer people starting treatment last year and 350,000 fewer referrals to investigate symptoms. The report, backed by #CatchUpWithCancer, gathered evidence from more than 30 organisations and professionals.

It concluded that a minister should be appointed to take responsibility for ensuring cancer care recovers, in the same way a minister for vaccines was appointed to oversee the rollout.

The report called on the Government to recognise the scale of the problems caused by the crisis and to deliver ring-fenced investment to improve cancer infrastructure.

It also urged ministers to listen to frontline staff, tackle workforce shortages, and cut red tape to implement new technology.

Dr Lisa Cameron, of the APPG on Health, said: “There is a real risk that cancer survival will be put back by a decade.”

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