Thompson backs ‘catch up with cancer’ campaign

Friday January 15th 2021


Image from the Breast Cancer Now charity

Written by Midlothian View Reporter, Luke Jackson

Owen Thompson MP has called for urgent investment from the UK Government to help address the backlog in cancer services during the Covid19 crisis.

Mr Thompson has supported calls from the “Catch Up With Cancer” campaign which has highlighted growing concerns about delays and the disruption to cancer service capacity, predicting up to 35,000 unnecessary cancer deaths across the UK if more urgent action is not taken.

The warnings are echoed by other cancer charities, including Breast Cancer Now which estimated nearly a million women in the UK had missed potentially lifesaving mammograms. According to McMillan Cancer Care 100 fewer women started treatment for breast cancer each working day in May and June last year, compared to 2019 – they estimate 50,000 missing cancer diagnoses because of Covid19 disruption.

Mr Thompson said

“It is recognised that the first wave of Covid19 caused a huge cancer backlog right across the UK – now the rise in hospital admissions in this second wave is putting the NHS under even more strain. It is an absolute tragedy that many thousands of people may have missed early diagnoses or face delays to their treatment.

“I know the Scottish Government is doing what it can to minimise disruption to vital cancer services and safely continue treatments. I also welcome the planned £114.5million investment through the Cancer Recovery Plan to improve patient care and treatment as we go forward, including two early diagnostic centres due to open this year.

“Yet despite the best efforts of everyone working hard in the NHS, the pandemic has strained resources and caused a growing backlog of people needing cancer treatment or screening, which threatens to cause a secondary health crisis. I have heard many really heartbreaking stories from Midlothian constituents who feel cancer has been forced to take a bit of a back seat as we deal with this pandemic emergency. Cancer charities too have struggled to raise funds and get their messages across.

“A super-boost to cancer service capacity is needed to tackle the backlog and this requires a significantly increased level of investment from the UK Government. We have to ‘catch up with cancer’ as an absolute priority and the UK Government must urgently act – nothing can be more important than saving lives.

“The latest funding outlined in November’s spending review fell far short of what is required and was about a third of what the SNP has been calling for on a yearly basis. Scotland has the ambition to tackle cancer and a plan to do so, but after years of austerity budgets the UK Government must make the move to properly invest in the NHS to provide the funds to let Scotland get on with this.

“I urge the UK Government to do ‘whatever it takes’ to help tackle this growing crisis for our cancer services.”

Catch Up With Cancer campaign: CLICK HERE for more information.

Breast Cancer Now: CLICK HERE for more information.

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