Dear Prime Minister, Chancellor of the Exchequer and Secretary of State for Health and Social Care,
Cancer affects every family across the UK. 1 in 2 of us will get cancer in our lifetime and incidence is
disproportionately high among older people and those in the most deprived communities. There are
around 30,000 extra cancer cases attributable to deprivation each year in the UK.
Before COVID-19, cancer services were under considerable strain. In England, we have been routinely
failing to meet the 62-day Cancer Waiting Time target for patients to begin treatment following an urgent
GP cancer referral – this has not been met since December 2015. Not only has the target been missed,
but it has been in continual decline since 2017, showing a service under increasing pressure.
And with almost 1 in 10 NHS posts vacant before the pandemic, too few cancer specialists in the NHS
and insufficient kit meant we have been failing to meet patient need. The lack of adequate support is putting
a strain on other parts of the NHS, with evidence of more patients experiencing a serious medical problem
and needing to attend A&E. Tragically, the pandemic has only put further pressure on cancer services, and
on patients and the lives of family’s dependent on those services.
...with almost 1 in 10 NHS posts vacant before the pandemic, too few cancer specialists in the NHS and insufficient kit meant we have been failing to meet patient need.