Radiotherapy UK calls on government for improved cancer services

Therapeutic radiographers attended a ‘Catch Up With Cancer Event’ at Parliament to stand with cancer patients awaiting treatment

Published: 02 February 2024 Radiotherapy

Cancer charity Radiotherapy UK was joined by clinicians and other cancer organisations in a visit to Westminster last month, to raise awareness of the 200,000 patients who have been awaiting treatment since 2020.

As part of the Catch Up With Cancer campaign Radiotherapy UK, which helps patients and professionals get the information and support they need, travelled to the Houses of Parliament in London on 31 January, ahead of World Cancer Day.

Leading clinicians, cancer specialists, cancer charities and therapeutic radiographers were all in attendance as the campaign paid visits to more than 50 politicians.

#CatchUpWithCancer, an award-winning cancer awareness campaign established by Radiotherapy UK, is calling for an urgent plan from the government and a cancer funding "super-boost", to prevent tens of thousands more cancer deaths.

The campaign is supported by a number of cancer organisations, including charity Children with Cancer UK and The Global Coalition for Radiotherapy. 

35,000 could die unnecessarily

The campaign began following the disruptions to cancer treatments as a result of Covid, with experts warning that as many as 35,000 cancer patients could die unnecessarily due to the impact of the pandemic on cancer services. It is calling especially for treatments like radiotherapy to be boosted and “set free from the bureaucracy that is holding it back”.

‘Evidence is very clear’

Professor Pat Price, co-founder of the campaign and a leading oncologist, said: “We are on a path that is flying in the face of the evidence. Evidence from around the world is very clear, we need a radical new cancer plan. Countries with dedicated cancer plans have better survival than ones that don’t. And it can’t just focus on diagnosing more patients.

“We need investment to treat them on time because every four weeks of delay in treatment can increase the risk of death by 10 per cent. It is so frustrating that ministers and NHS England seem to have abandoned the idea of a dedicated cancer plan in favour of a multiple-disease strategy.”

Politicians including Stephanie Peacock, MP for Barnsley East, and Mark Tami, MP for Alyn and Deeside, both expressed their support for the Catch Up With Cancer campaign and its calls for a dedicated cancer plan.

A new 10-point plan

Radiotherapy UK added that the loss of a dedicated National Cancer Control Plan in England and Wales has been a “major misstep” at a time when the NHS is facing massive workforce shortages and cancer services have struggled to recover after the pandemic.

Senior clinical cancer specialists have since published their own 10-point plan as a blueprint for a new cancer strategy, including:

  1. Create a UK-wide National Cancer Control Plan
  2. Re-establish the National Cancer Research Institute
  3. Deliver an NHS Long Term Cancer Workforce Plan
  4. Strengthen primary care
  5. Fund a prevention plan
  6. Integrate hospice care within the NHS
  7. Address location-specific and vulnerable populations
  8. Develop an integrated data and digital infrastructure
  9. Deliver a sustainable plan for equipment and infrastructure
  10. Rethink governance and structure for advice to government

The meetings come ahead of World Cancer Day, February 8, when the Global Coalition for Radiotherapy will host distinguished presenters, including Professor Pat Price, for a virtual event “Closing the Care Gap through Global Collaboration.”

Find outmore about Radiotherapy UK here

(Image: Catch Up With Cancer Campaign Event, via Radiotherapy UK)