The government has been accused of repeating existing pledges to create an illusion that it is ‘doubling down on cancer’. The prime minister used a visit to a cancer centre in Kent to announce two ‘new’ care standards to ensure that patients with cancer get diagnosed more quickly.
His first pledge was that 75% of people who develop cancer will be diagnosed early by 2028. This was previously announced by NHS England in January 2019. His second promise was that 75% of suspected cancer patients will be told if they have the disease within 28 days of being urgently referred by their GP. This was introduced in April last year. It has not been met.
The prime minister also promised that by March next year the NHS would have reduced to its pre-pandemic level the backlog of patients who have been waiting more than two months for cancer treatment. Patients were originally promised that they would be given their first ‘definitive’ cancer treatment within two months back in 2009. The target has been missed every year since 2015.
Michelle Mitchell, the chief executive of Cancer Research UK, said, ‘For years cancer patients have not been getting the care they are supposedly entitled to within set timeframes. Getting back to pre-pandemic levels simply isn’t good enough,’
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