Earlier this week, I revealed the massive scale of the shift of NHS resources – from the poorest areas, with the biggest health challenges, to the wealthiest areas, with the best health - that the Government is now planning.
£345 million is to be taken from the NHS in Derbyshire and South Yorkshire and given to Surrey and Hampshire.
I also reported on the dramatic increase in the number of people waiting more than 18 weeks for hospital admission, both locally and nationally. In Derbyshire and South Yorkshire there has been a more than 70% increase since May 2010.
Now, I can reveal that there has been a 131% increase in the number of people waiting more than 6 weeks for cancer endoscopy tests since May 2010, according to this week’s Department of Health statistics.
Under the last Labour government, there were significant year-on-year cuts in waiting-time for cancer diagnostic tests and treatment. There were also clear plans to improve and speed up cancer tests in primary care. But, this government simply scrapped them, and now we see the results.
Catching cancer early is the only way to get survival rates up. Investment in early testing can save money from the costs of treating advanced cancers.
You might think that the Government is seriously concerned about these increasing delays. It isn’t. It has simply floated the idea of introducing charges for a fast-tracked testing service through one of its advisors. This is both disgraceful and unacceptable. The treatment of cancer must not be based on the ability to pay.
Is our NHS safe in this Government’s hands? Based on its record to date, the answer is short: No.