Crawley MP Henry Smith is backing a life-saving appeal from Cancer Research UK for more NHS cancer staff.
He attended an event in Westminster to launch the charity’s new campaign, ‘Shoulder to Shoulder Against Cancer’.
It encourages everyone to stand shoulder to shoulder with the NHS by calling on the UK Government to tackle the chronic shortage of staff who diagnose and treat the disease.
Henry said; “More people are surviving cancer than ever before, thanks to the fantastic work of the NHS staff who turn breakthroughs in research into vital tests and treatments.
“But as the health service reaches its 70th birthday, it’s facing unprecedented challenges.
“Every year, 500 people are diagnosed with cancer in Crawley. With this number set to rise, it’s vital that we have an NHS which is fit to deliver world-class care for all cancer patients now and in the future.
“That’s why I’m backing Cancer Research UK’s call to stand shoulder to shoulder with the NHS against cancer, so that everyone has the best possible chance of surviving this devastating disease.
“As Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Blood Cancer and Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Heart Disease, I’ve had numerous discussions with the Health & Social Care Secretary and NHS officials on services and treatments, as well as wider psychological support for patients.
“These are subjects I’ve raised in Parliament including during a debate on NHS care which I secured and led earlier in the year.”
For 70 years the NHS has been at the forefront of fighting cancer, but with a growing and ageing population cancer services are struggling to cope with the increased number of diagnoses.
This means more staff are urgently needed to keep up with the demand for life-saving tests and treatments, yet already one in 10 NHS diagnostic posts are unfilled.
In the UK, cancer survival rates are still lagging behind the best in Europe and in England nearly half of all cancers are diagnosed at an advanced stage, when they are harder to treat successfully.
To help save more lives, Cancer Research UK is now urging the UK Government to commit to training and employing more NHS staff to diagnose and treat cancer earlier.
To speed up and improve cancer diagnosis and treatment, investment is needed in key professions, including radiographers and radiologists who carry out and interpret scans such as MRIs, endoscopists who look inside the body by inserting a tiny camera and pathologists who look for abnormal cells, as well as oncologists (cancer specialists), nurses and surgeons.
Shaun Walsh, Head of Public Affairs and Campaigns at Cancer Research UK commented; “We’re grateful to Henry Smith MP for his support. It’s up to all of us to stand shoulder to shoulder with the NHS against the disease.
“Without increased investment in NHS staff, we could see the death toll from cancer rising. But by acting right now and investing in the early diagnostic workforce, we could help prevent a crisis in the future and save many more lives.
“Today, two in four people survive their cancer. It’s our ambition for this to be three in four by 2034. That’s why we hope MPs, patients and the public get behind this vitally important campaign to help make our cancer services among the best in the world.”