Wednesday, 20 June 2012

More cuts in cancer treatment and care

There are more than 2 million adults living with cancer in the UK.

On 23 May, I revealed the massive increases in the number of people waiting for cancer endoscopy tests. [See: ‘Now cancer diagnostic times up’ below]

Yesterday, it was revealed that the Government is planning sweeping cuts to the funding of England’s 28 Cancer Networks, which play a vital role in improving the quality of care for cancer patients.

This year, the funding for cancer networks alone was £18.5 million. Now, it has been confirmed that the budget for all clinical networks, including cancer networks, is to be slashed to just £10 million next year.

Cancer networks play an absolutely vital role in improving the quality of cancer care, by bringing hospital and community services together, sharing best practice and involving cancer patients and the groups that represent them.

Started in 2000, the cancer networks have been key players in increasing survival rates, and improving the quality of treatment and care. The North Trent Network – covering South Yorkshire and North Nottinghamshire and North Derbyshire is based in Sheffield. This area has one of the highest levels of cancer incidence and mortality in the country.

Sheffield’s Weston Park Hospital is a world leader in cancer research and provides many specialist services that are only available in a few places across the country. It is onw of only three purpose built specialist cancer hospitals in the United Kingdom. Many of the services provided at the hospital are used to treat patients from all over the country.

We have made huge progress in diagnosing and treating cancer in the last decade. Now, this Government seems intent on destroying the foundations of better cancer services.

It is wasting billions on a massive, quite unnecessary, top-down reorganization of our NHS, whilst increasing waiting times for diagnosis and treatment in all health specialties, including cancer.