Cambridge, UK, 12th May 2021 / Sciad Newswire / Top cancer experts, cancer charities, Royal Colleges and MPs have issued an urgent call for the government to move forward from Covid and start saving lives with cancer funding.
In an open letter to the Chancellor Rishi Sunak and Health Secretary Matt Hancock, leading cancer specialist Professor Gordon Wishart, Chief Medical Officer and CEO of Check4Cancer, has joined a host of concerned experts, charities, and professional bodies calling on the government to allocate funds to clear the backlog in cancer services.
Cancer survival rates set to reach the lowest in 15 years
Over 3 million people missed routine cancer screening appointments in England during the pandemic – a service which normally diagnoses around 400 cancers a week. The disruptions to cancer services during the pandemic has resulted in a backlog in cancer screening, cancer diagnoses and subsequent delays in cancer treatments. These delays have been followed by a 6.8% increase in the diagnosis of late and terminal, stage 4 cancer diagnoses. The current backlog is estimated to be causing 3-6 months of delays to cancer diagnoses and treatment, contributing to 4,700 otherwise avoidable deaths1.
Covid deaths reach single figures, cancer deaths are rising
In 2021’s recent budget and spending review, the Chancellor outlined £1 billion for clearing elective backlogs within the NHS. However, none of this funding has been specifically allocated to cancer care. Today experts, charities and MPs are calling on the Chancellor and Health Secretary to allocate funding directly to cancer care. Dedicated funding will enable extra capacity within cancer services, to clear the backlog, reduce patient delays in cancer diagnoses and prevent needless cancer deaths across the UK.
An urgent plea to the government
The UK government has yet to acknowledge the existence of a backlog in cancer care. Cancer services cannot recover, and the backlog cannot be cleared until the government address the issue. As part of its Covid recovery plan, the government must consider the impact of the pandemic on cancer and set out a plan to ‘catch-up’.
As lockdown restrictions ease, more people are visiting GPs and cancer clinics. Each ongoing week of delays to cancer diagnosis and cancer treatments is negatively impacting cancer survival rates. The government urgently needs to recognise this and support NHS cancer services with vital funding to save lives.
Alongside this open letter, MPs and cancer experts have launched a consultation that will be presented as recommendations to the government at a #CatchUpWithCancer summit on 26th May 2021. Any cancer clinicians, charities and organisations involved in cancer, or members of the public who are cancer patients are encouraged to submit a response to this consultation by 14th May 2021.
Professor Gordon Wishart is the Founder & Chief Medical Officer at Check4Cancer & Visiting Professor of Cancer Surgery at Anglia Ruskin School of Medicine.
Notes to Editors
Check4Cancer is a leading early cancer detection and cancer prevention company founded by Professor Gordon Wishart (former Director of the Cambridge Breast Unit from 2005-2010, and current Professor of Cancer Surgery at Anglia Ruskin School of Medicine since 2008). Winner of Health Investors Awards “Diagnostic Provider of the Year 2017”, the company offers private cancer screening and genetic services validated by a panel of clinical advisors with national and international reputations in their own cancer specialities. Learn more at www.check4cancer.com or @Check4Cancer.
#CatchUpWithCancer is a campaign launched by Craig and Mandy Russell, who tragically lost their daughter Kelly, 31, to bowel cancer during lockdown after her treatment was stopped during the pandemic.
For further information, contact:
Deborah Cockerill / Stephanie Wenban
Sciad Communications Ltd
T: +44 (0)20 3405 7892