NHS ‘sleepwalking into cancer disaster’ with backlog amid pandemic – experts

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Royal Colleges, MPs and a group of charities have joined forces to demand an increase in funding for cancer services in a bid to avoid further diagnosis delays due to the overwhelming of the service during the Covid-19 crisis. A group of 14 doctors and entities today signed a declaration calling on the Government to provide the NHS with what it needs in order to “super-boost” its capacity levels.

The document reads: “We call on the Government to urgently address the Covid-induced cancer backlog and save thousands of lives by allocating funding for cancer services.

“We further urge the Government to recognise that to catch up with the cancer backlog, NHS services need the tools to ‘super-boost’ capacity above pre-pandemic levels.

“This means revisiting aspects of the Budget and Spending Review to ring-fence urgent cancer investment.”

Oncologists said the long waits could cause 35,000 deaths and delay the UK’s efforts to enhance cancer survival rates buy ten to 15 years.

Liberal Democrat MP Tim Farron warned about the consequences of inaction.

He told “We are sleepwalking into a cancer crisis and the lack of action from the Government has left the cancer community in shock.

“The Government and NHS leaders keep saying they have it under control, but right at the moment we need action.”

The group of signatories suggested a series of solutions to the backlog, including a reduction in administrative processes and increased funding for equipment and staff.

Professor Pat Price, chairman of Action Radiotherapy, pointed out that the target date of April 1 for NHS services to return to normal did not seem to have been met.

He told the news site: “The NHS said hospitals should be getting back to normal by April 1, but that does not seem to be happening. Diagnostic scans are still being delayed.

“The NHS cannot deal with the current demand, let alone the backlog.

“There has been no increased capacity because there is no extra money.

“The buck has been passed to individual hospital trusts, but there needs to be a central taskforce to prevent a postcode lottery developing. Time is critical.”

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