Cancer backlog threatens ‘devastating health crisis’

Nearly 70 MPs, heads of medical colleges and leading oncologists are urging the government to deliver a new ‘radical’ national plan to tackle the cancer backlog.

The open letter sent to Prime Minister Boris Johnson from the chairs of all-party parliamentary groups, former cabinet ministers and a former cancer minister, calls on him to consider the seven recommendations put forward by the cancer community and cross-party MPs.

It warns that ‘without urgent action we face a second devastating health crisis as the Covid wards empty and the cancer wards fill’.

The recommendations include the need to recognise the urgency of the backlog and deliver a new radical national plan, driven from ministerial level and backed by investment in equipment, technology, IT and workforce and to sweep away bureaucracy that restricts cancer care capacity.

Tim Farron, chair of the APPG for radiotherapy and Liberal Democrat MP, said: “It feels like ministers and NHS leaders are hearing our words but still not accepting the magnitude of this Covid-caused cancer crisis. We keep hearing that ‘everything is in hand’ and that there are ‘encouraging signs’ but this flies in the face of warnings from frontline staff, patients and cancer experts.

“This crisis can’t be solved by just exhorting the already exhausted staff to ‘work harder’.  And getting more patients to present is only part of the solution. We urgently need the prime minister to intervene and ensure we have a radical national plan backed with a real cash ‘super-boost’ to give cancer services the tools and capacity they need to catch up.”

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