Patients 'Dying Needlessly' Under Postcode Lottery

Macmillan Cancer Support Believes A Postcode Lottery Is Causing Thousands To Die Needlessly


As many as 6,000 patients a year are dying because of the England postcode cancer care lottery, according to Macmillan Cancer Support.

Research from the charity shows that 6,000 more people per year could survive for at least 12 months after they are diagnosed if the average survival rate for all of England was the same as at the top ten per cent of performing trusts across the nation.

Over a third of cancer patients in the Barking and Dagenham area die within 12 months of being told they have developed a malignant tumour, while just 24 per cent die within the same period in the North East Hampshire and Farnham area.

To coincide with the release of its report, Macmillan revealed the ten best performing trusts in England for cancer survival.

North East Hampshire and Farnham topped the list, while Westminster, Richmond, Barnet and Leeds North rounded out the top five.

The charity also released the names of the worst performing areas, with Barking and Dagenham the worst ranked and Crawley, Newham, Swale and Vale Royal just behind.

Macmillan is now calling for care to be improved for all patients across the board in order to make sure people from all areas, whether economically deprived or wealthy, have the same chance of survival.

Juliet Bouverie, director of services and influencing at Macmillan Cancer Support, stated: "This analysis shows an inexcusable postcode lottery which is responsible for 6,000 people dying needlessly within 12 months of being diagnosed with cancer every year.

"It's a no-brainer - when patients have to wait longer for diagnosis and treatment their chances of surviving are significantly reduced. It is also a disgrace that our survival rates continue to lag behind other European countries."

The government has made improving cancer care a priority, but while investment in certain areas has allowed for better survival rates, Labour argues not enough is being done to help people from poorer areas with the financial burden of the disease.

Expert Opinion
Patient care should always be a top priority and it is troubling to hear reports that cancer patients are being subjected to different levels of treatment and care standards due to their geographical location. Early diagnosis and treatment of cancer is crucial to the likelihood of patients being able to fight off the disease and it is vital that everyone has access to the same high-quality care – no one should be penalised simply as a result of where they live.

β€œIt is vital this postcode lottery element of cancer treatment is removed from the NHS and improvements are made to the standards of treatment provided to cancer patients being cared for in the worst performing areas.”
Lisa Jordan, Partner