David Drew MP calls for long-term plan to address cancer staffing crisis
People in Stroud with cancer are waiting longer for initial treatment than the England average, says David Drew MP who is calling for urgent investment in more NHS specialist staff in order to save lives.
“One in two people will get cancer in their lifetime and we are seeing increasing pressure on cancer services. The Government must tackle preventable risk factors and address shortages in the cancer workforce,” said Mr Drew, Labour MP for Stroud.
“I am concerned that here in Gloucestershire waiting times for a first cancer appointment are longer than the average across England.
“We need a long-term fully-funded plan for the cancer workforce so the NHS can meet the challenge of rising numbers of cancer cases. We need staff to save lives.”
The snapshot of cancer data has been compiled by Cancer Research UK which is urging MPs to stand shoulder to shoulder with the NHS against cancer.
David Drew MP is backing Cancer Research UK’s campaign for earlier diagnosis after the charity’s Cancer Awareness roadshow made a special stop at Parliament.
There are around 3,500 cancer cases per year in Gloucestershire, with around 1,600 deaths in the county each year.
Data shows that people in Gloucestershire are waiting longer for their first appointment than elsewhere in England.
In Gloucestershire, 75% of patients receive their first definitive cancer treatment within 62 days of an urgent GP referral, below the England national average of 82% and below the national target of 85%.
Mr Drew is also concerned that childhood obesity levels are higher in Stroud than the average for England.
Obesity and being overweight are the second largest preventable cause of cancer, after smoking, and obese children are around five times more likely to be obese in adulthood.
Yet in Stroud 24.4% of four to five-year-olds are overweight or obese, higher than the England average of 22.6%.
Mr Drew is supporting Cancer Research UK’s call for more NHS specialist staff, to enable the NHS to meet the target of diagnosing 75% of cancers at an early stage.
Cancer Research UK says that more staff are desperately needed to carry out and interpret diagnostic tests, with more than 1 in 10 NHS diagnostic posts currently unfilled.
Diagnosing cancer earlier – when it is more likely to be treated successfully - is a vital part of ensuring more people survive cancer.
The Government has made a commitment to diagnose 75% of cancer cases in England at stage one or stage two by 2028. Currently only 53.4% of Gloucestershire cancer patients are diagnosed at stages one or two.
However, to reach this target the NHS needs a long-term plan for the cancer workforce who deliver the crucial cancer tests and treatments people need. Shaun Walsh, Head of Public Affairs and Campaigning at Cancer Research UK, said: “Thank you to David Drew for coming along and taking the time to learn about the challenges facing cancer prevention, diagnosis and treatment today.
“Put simply, we do not have enough key NHS cancer staff in post to diagnose and treat cancer soon enough. Cancer survival rates are lower in the UK than in comparable countries. The new Government must address this, so that everyone has the best possible chance of surviving this devastating disease.”