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MP challenges Health Secretary to tackle South Lakes cancer waiting times

February 8, 2022 4:42 PM

On the floor of the House of Commons this morning, local MP Tim Farron urged Health Secretary Sajid Javid to invest in tackling cancer waiting times to save lives in the South Lakes.

The latest figures from NHS England reveal that in November 2021, just 63% of cancer patients in the Morcambe Bay area started their treatment within 62 days of an urgent GP referral.

Speaking in Parliament during a statement on Elective Treatment, Tim said: "I am grateful for what the Secretary of State said about diagnostic hubs. Will he investigate personally why the planned hub for Westmorland General Hospital has been delayed until 2023?

"I am also grateful for what he said about cancer services more generally. He knows that there have been 60,000 missed cancer diagnoses over the last two years, and I am sure he knows that radiotherapy is a key factor in tackling the backlog.

"Is he aware that radiotherapy ought to be accessed by 53% of cancer patients in this country but is accessed by only 23%, and that, as a proportion of our cancer budget, funding for radiotherapy in this country is only a little more than half the average for similar developed countries?

"Will he therefore make it a priority to meet with the all-party parliamentary group for radiotherapy and look at our manifesto, so that we can work together to save tens of thousands of lives that would be needlessly lost otherwise?"

Responding, Sajid Javid said: "The honourable gentleman raises a series of very important points, especially in what he said about cancer and radiotherapy.

"I believe he already has a meeting in the diary with Health Ministers, and I will look out for the output of that meeting.

"I agree with what he said about radiotherapy and the importance of investment in that, and there is a lot more investment. I referred earlier to the £6 billion extra capital budget, and a large part of that will be used for new diagnostics.

"I hope he also agrees with me that, as well as radiotherapy, we need to invest in the very latest cutting-edge technology for cancer care, such as proton beam therapy, which I saw for myself last week in London."