Tony Lloyd MP calls for cancer services to ‘catch up with cancer’ in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic

Tony Lloyd, MP for Rochdale, is calling on the Prime Minister to ensure that the NHS reacts more quickly to restore cancer services that have been badly disrupted due to the Covid-19 crisis.

Tony Lloyd said, “Experts have warned that up to 35,000 cancer patients may die as a result of disruptions and delays to cancer treatments.

“The NHS’s plan appears to be limited to getting cancer services back to a level of normality by the end of the year, and don’t appear to include provisions to ‘boost’ services to tackle the backlog.

“This timescale is far too long when you could consider that many cancers can become untreatable in a matter of weeks.

“The Prime Minister and the Health Secretary need to accept that there will be a backlog that will need tackling.”

“The scale and urgency of the problem is illustrated with enormous public support for the Catch Up With Cancer petition which was launched by Craig and Mandy Russell whose daughter, Kelly Smith, died from bowel cancer in June aged just 31-years-old.

“Over 200,000 people have signed their petition, although I think many more people would support it as this is about ensuring that many lives as possible are saved.”

Writing to the Prime Minister, Tony Lloyd and a cross-party section of MPs wrote, “There are many smart and cost-effective solutions being offered by the cancer community and a vast group of MPs working with experts, charities, industry, APPGs and the NHS workforce.

“Just as one example, the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Radiotherapy has produced a 6 point plan to transform and revitalise the radiotherapy sector in a way that would unleash its full potential to help tackle the cancer backlog.

“We urge you to intervene and ensure that your Ministers and the NHS urgently work with the cancer community to avoid a post-Covid cancer catastrophe.”

Notes for editors:

  • In a BBC Panorama episode aired on 6 July, scientists interviewed as part of that programme warned that delays to cancer diagnosis and treatment due to coronavirus could cause 35,000 extra UK cancer deaths in a “worst case scenario” if delays continue. (Source)
  • The NHS plan identifies cancer as a clinical priority over the next ten years. It sets out its commitments for cancer prevention, diagnosis and treatment. On radiotherapy, the plan commits to: complete the £130 million upgrade of radiotherapy machines across England; commission the NHS new Proton Beam facilities in London and Manchester; reform the specialised commissioning payments for radiotherapy hypofractionation to support further equipment upgrades; faster, smarter and effective radiotherapy, supported by greater networking of specialised expertise; and, starting with ovarian cancer, ensuring greater access to specialist expertise and knowledge in the treatment of cancers where there are fewer or more risky treatment options. (Source)
  • Craig and Mandy Russell’s petition received 100,000 supporters within hours and has now reached over 200,000 signatories. The link to the petition can be found here.
  • The All-Party Parliamentary Group for Radiotherapy has produced a six-point Covid-19 recovery plan to save lives and save money within the NHS, which can be found here.