I sympathise profoundly with anyone who has been affected by cancer and I pay tribute to Breast Cancer Now (BCN) for the work it does in funding research, championing improved access to medicines, and in providing support to affected individuals and their families.
I believe we should set an ambition for the NHS to have the best cancer survival rates in Europe. Key to this will be improving early diagnosis, public awareness and screening programmes, as well as ensuring that GPs have the training, resources and support they need to identify symptoms and refer patients quickly.
The Breast Cancer Now report highlights a number of areas which are key to improving cancer outcomes and experiences. The report also highlights the charity’s concerns that the funding of new and innovative drugs is increasingly becoming based on cost-effectiveness rather than on clinical need.
I support the full implementation of the Cancer Strategy. The Cancer Strategy contains proposals that could go a long way towards helping some of the estimated 2.5 million people living with cancer. I am pleased that the Government has now accepted all 96 recommendations of the strategy and implementation is being led by NHS England's National Cancer Transformation Board.
However, I remain concerned that the Conservative Government has repeatedly missed the national cancer target since January 2014. In the past year, waiting lists have topped 4 million; the number of patients spending more than 4 hours in A&E has risen 250%; and the Royal College of Nursing has warned of a 40,000 shortfall of nursing staff in the NHS.
As a Shadow Minister in Labour’s Health Team, I am committed to our plan to invest over £30 billion extra in the NHS to give patients the modern, well-resourced services they need. Labour’s Shadow Health Team will be challenging the Conservative Government to give careful consideration to the recommendations outlined by Breast Cancer Now. The manifesto I stood on at the General Election also promised to guarantee access to treatment within 18 weeks and to take one million people off NHS waiting lists by the end of the next parliament.