Monthly column: PM has moved the goalposts instead of dealing with cancer waiting times


Last week, the Government announced it was dropping six out of ten of its cancer waiting times targets. Among the abandoned commitments includes the requirement for 93 per cent of patients to see a specialist within two weeks of receiving an urgent referral from a GP.

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It is hardly surprising the Government is moving its own goalposts since only one of 122 NHS trusts has hit crucial cancer diagnosis and treatment time targets.

Bedfordshire sadly is one of twenty-seven trusts that has never hit the cancer target introduced in 2021 as part of the Government’s supposed ‘war on cancer’ to ensure 75 per cent of patients are told they have cancer or are given the all-clear within 28 days of being urgently referred with suspected symptoms.

Bedfordshire is well under the target, at 66.2%

Cancer waiting times have worsened every year since the Conservatives came to power in 2010. Considering how many of us are touched by cancer in one way or another, it is another devastating legacy left by 13 years of Tory rule.

Instead of addressing the problem, Rishi Sunak has now cynically moved the goalposts and attempted to blame NHS staff for the record 7 million NHS waiting list.

Effective reform of the NHS is necessary. Shifting the focus to the amount of time it takes to diagnose someone, and then the time it takes to start treatment is sensible, but the Prime Minister should focus on cutting waiting times, not cutting standards for patients.

I am supporting the plans for a new specialist Cancer Research Hospital in Cambridge (CCRH). I’m pleased the business case has been approved by the Government but just like with the plans for a new specialist mental health hospital in Bedford, the delays in getting any kind of new infrastructure built is insufferable – never mind keeping the existing NHS estate from crumbling.

A Labour government will make it a national mission to improve cancer survival rates by bringing down waiting times and improving early diagnosis.

But achieving this means fighting for the NHS as I don’t believe it will survive another Tory administration as a public and universal health system, free at the point of use, paid for by general taxation.

The next Labour Government will work tirelessly to improve access to radiotherapy, alongside providing the NHS with the staff it needs. We will reform our health system and embrace innovative technology that has the potential to transform the way we deliver care.

We will build an NHS fit for the future by also moving care away from hospitals and closer to the community with a focus on prevention and early intervention. We aim to achieve all relevant cancer waiting time standards within our first term. We have done it before, and the country will need us to do it again.

This is a monthly guest column provided by
Mohammad Yasin, Labour MP for Bedford and Kempston.
It is published unedited and does not

reflect the views of the Bedford Independent.

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