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SOCIETY OF RADIOGRAPHERS SENDS OPEN LETTER TO PRIME MINISTER CALLING FOR MORE RADIOTHERAPY FUNDING

04 March 2013

Resources needed to guarantee access for cancer patients to advanced radiotherapy techniques.

The Society of Radiographers has joined with seven other professional and industry organisations to write an open letter to David Cameron, calling for more funding for radiotherapy.

The 'Radiotherapy Services in England' report has identified 26 cancer treatment machines that are already past the date when they should be replaced and a further 59 which will become obsolete over the next three years.

The letter from the eight organisations says: “The report...starkly highlights what needs to be done if we are to deliver the world class cancer service we all want.”

It continues: “We are concerned that an ongoing shortfall of funding will prevent the most advanced techniques being universally available to all patients who would benefit from them. As this is very similar to the situation which led to the setting up of the Cancer Drugs Fund we ask that the government works with continued enthusiasm to promote an appropriate and higher level of funding to support advanced radiotherapy treatment.”

More than 275,000 people a year are diagnosed with cancer in England and more than half of these should receive radiotherapy as part of their treatment. However, actual access rates are significantly lower at around 38 per cent.

It is estimated that in England alone some 36,000 patients a year who may benefit from radiotherapy do not receive it. Low access rates are largely attributable to a lack of availability of the latest radiotherapy treatments. The machines that need replacing identified in the 'Radiotherapy Services in England' will require an investment of £85-100million, significantly less than the £200million fund for cancer drugs.

The letter to David Cameron was signed by the Society of Radiographer's chief executive Richard Evans and representatives from the British Institute of Radiology, the Institute of Physics and Engineering in Medicine, Macmillan Cancer Support, Varian Medical Systems, Vertual Ltd, Accuray Europe and Elekta Ltd.

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Notes for Editor

For more information contact Dominic Deeson on 01227 469060 or 0795 784 5238. 'Radiotherapy Services in England 2012' can be downloaded from: http://www.dh.gov.uk/health/2012/11/radiotherapy-2012/.

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