Cancer Care In England Has "Lost Momentum"

MPs Call For NHS To Adapt To Cope With Demand On Cancer Services

16.03.2015

Efforts to improve cancer services in England have "lost momentum" in the past two years, a report from a group of MPs has claimed.

The Public Accounts Committee has called for the NHS, which is currently struggling to meet waiting time standards and reducing resources, to adapt to cope with demand.

Although UK cancer survival rates are improving, findings suggest that they are generally poor compared with the rest of Europe. The report draws from research conducted by a number of cancer charities and experts.

The NHS target that 85% of cancer patients are treated within 62 days of referral was missed for the first three quarters of 2014, with other waiting time targets also missed throughout the year. Nearly a third of people died within a year of diagnosis, and only half survived for five years.

Committee chair Margaret Hodge said: "With more than one in three people developing cancer in their lifetime, cancer touches the lives of all of us at some point, and the Department of Health spends over £6.7bn on cancer services a year.

"That is why it is so concerning that the Department of Health and NHS England have lost momentum in the drive to improve cancer services in the last two years.

"More and more people are getting cancer but the resources available to support improvement have gone down."

Responding to the report, NHS England said it was already working on a new five-year strategy.

Expert Opinion
The safety and welfare of patients should always be the priority for the NHS, so it is worrying to see these very clear concerns raised regarding cancer care services.

"People who are diagnosed with cancer deserve to be able to access essential care and treatment in a timely manner, so efforts must continue to ensure that this is the case. A ‘loss of momentum’ on the issue is a major concern and it is vital that this is tackled as soon as possible."
Mandy Luckman, Partner