Making plans to defeat cancer

I met with Cancer Research UK researchers and ambassadors last week in the build up to World Cancer Day on February 4 to hear how international collaboration is vital in beating the disease.World Cancer Day Luciana B

World Cancer Day is designed to raise awareness of cancer and to promote its prevention, detection and treatment.

I’ve been wearing my Unity Band with its classic reef knot design to with pride to symbolise the strength of people coming together to defeat cancer. Money raised through Unity Band donations will help fund more research, more treatments and more cures – ultimately helping to save more lives.

One in two people born after 1960 in the UK will be diagnosed with cancer at some point in their lifetime. Although survival rates have doubled since the early 1970s, everyone needs to act to help speed up progress and see more people survive the disease.

Cancer waiting times exist so that people referred by their GP get swift diagnosis and treatment, but the national target of 62 days is being regularly missed nationally, but here in Liverpool is being met.

However, in Liverpool we need to get better at spotting cancers early. More than one in five people presents as an emergency case, often when the cancer has developed dangerously.

Better cancer treatment requires planning to attract and keep the best staff so that we can improve public awareness and screening programmes, and ensure that GPs have the training, resources and support they need to identify symptoms and refer patients quickly.

The government published its cancer workforce plan in December last year. If implemented in full, it could save 30,000 more lives per year by 2020.

However, the government has repeatedly missed the national cancer target since January 2014. In the past year, waiting lists have topped 4 million, the number of patients spending more than four hours in A&E has risen 250 per cent and the Royal College of Nursing has warned of a 40,000 shortfall of nursing staff.

NHS England has already warned that treatment targets cannot be met and other benchmarks and standards may be at risk because the Chancellor did not provide the NHS with the money experts said it required at the Autumn Budget.

I recently raised my concerns about this with the Prime Minister, click here to see our exchange.

If the NHS is to deliver for patients and fulfil the Cancer Strategy by 2021, it is essential that Ministers fully support the cancer workforce plan with the funding needed to make its ambitions a reality and to ensure cancer diagnosis, care and outcomes are improved.