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Wednesday, 22 April 2015

Labour pledge extra money for cancer treatment

Labour leader Ed Miliband will today announce that the next Labour government will invest in new cancer diagnostic equipment for GP surgeries and replacing outdated radiotherapy machines in treatment centres across England. He contrasts, what he says is the real action that Labour will take – delivering a one week cancer test guarantee with real money and a real plan - in the first years of the next parliament, against the meaningless IOUs and failing plan of this Tory-led government.

He reveals how the Government tried to slip out, in the final minutes before Parliament was dissolved, an admission that it has broken its promises on the key cancer treatment target which will not be met at all this year. And he warns this latest broken promise on the NHS is set to leave another 23,000 cancer patients waiting more than two months to start their treatment over the next year.

  • Labour’s new investment of £150 million each year from 2016/17 in new diagnostic infrastructure will make it possible to do more tests directly in GP surgeries by ensuring key equipment is available in every town.
  • He will also say that Labour’s new Cancer Treatments Fund, which will be put in place after the Cancer Drugs Fund expires in 2016, will help kick start the urgent replacement of outdated radiotherapy machines. In spite of official NHS guidance saying that machines should be replaced every 10 years, NHS radiotherapy centres have not always been able to do so, with a recent Labour Freedom of Information request revealing that 1 in 5 are older than that.
  • The NHS England’s Business Plan 2015-2016 was released at 9.24pm on March 27th – Parliament’s last working day before the General Election. It reveals that the NHS does not now expect to meet the cancer target for people to begin treatment within two months of urgent referral this year, with officials saying that the point they expect the NHS will be meeting the target will now be March 2016.
  • The key cancer target has already become a potent symbol of the Government’s NHS failure after being missed for the first time at the start of 2014. On current trends another 23,000 patients could be waiting longer than two months to start their treatment, impacting on health and chances of survival, as well as causing patients great anxiety.
  • Official data shows that numbers waiting over six weeks for key cancer tests have increased four-fold since May 2010, while a recent survey from the Royal College of Radiologists has indicated that hundreds of thousands of patients are now waiting over a month for their test results
  • Although David Cameron once promised that his NHS reforms would keep waiting times down and release more money for cancer treatment, key targets have been missed and cancer budgets have been cut.

Speaking ahead of a visit to Addenbrooke’s, Cambridge University Hospital, Mr Miliband said: "The NHS needs a real plan with real money right now – not an IOU. Yesterday I set out our NHS Rescue Plan for our first 100 days, our first Budget and our first year in office. Now I want to set out the next stage of our fully-funded plan, an investment of £150 million a year, every year in the key equipment patients need to get quick access to cancer tests and improve early diagnosis. There can be nothing more worrying for patients and their families than waiting to hear if you have this terrible disease. Speeding up cancer tests will help reduce the anxiety of waiting for a test result, improve early diagnosis, and ensure those who need it can start treatment sooner."

Mr Miliband commented "And we know that early diagnosis dramatically improves the chances of successful treatment while saving the NHS on the costs of late intervention. So we are raising money through a Mansion Tax, closing loopholes enjoyed by the hedge funds and imposing a new levy on tobacco firms – to pay for the equipment needed to deliver our guarantee of one-week cancer tests. What a contrast with the Tories who promised extra money before for cancer treatment but ended up cutting cancer budgets. They have run a government that has taken the NHS backwards and now we have the shabby sight of them sneaking out evidence of their own failure on cancer treatment under cover of darkness and dissolution, hoping no-one will notice."

"I’ve got news for David Cameron: the game’s up, you broke your promises on the NHS before and no one will believe you again in the future." Ed Miliband added.