Thank you for emailing me about cancer treatment during the coronavirus pandemic.
I welcome that the Government has already announced £3 billion funding to support the NHS recovery from coronavirus, to help to ease existing pressures and enable hospitals to carry out extra checks, scans, and other operations or procedures. Cancer patients will continue to be prioritised and will benefit from approximately £1 billion of this funding to begin tackling the elective backlog. This will be supported by £325 million for NHS diagnostics. This will help to ensure that cancer patients are able to access the care that they need as safely and quickly as possible. I understand that further funding is subject to the 2021 Spending Review in the autumn.
Cancer is a priority for the Government and survival rates are at a record high. Since 2010 rates of survival from cancer have increased year-on-year. Around 7,000 people are alive today who would not have been had mortality rates stayed the same as then. I agree that we need to keep working on this, which is why I welcome the Government's stated aim to see three quarters of all cancers detected at an early stage by 2028 (currently just over half are detected at an early stage). The plan will overhaul screening programmes, provide new investment in state of the art technology to transform the process of diagnosis, and boost research and innovation. This is part of the NHS Long Term Plan (LTP), published in January 2019, and forms part of how the Government will achieve its ambition to see 55,000 more people surviving cancer for five years in England each year from 2028. I will continue to support the Government and the NHS to deliver on this, in spite of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
One of the measures outlined in the LTP is safer and more precise treatment, including advanced radiotherapy techniques and immunotherapies to continue to support improvements in survival rates. This will be supported by a £130 million upgrade of radiotherapy machines across England, as well as commissioning the NHS new state-of-the-art Proton Beam facilities in London and Manchester. In addition, the LTP commits to reforms to the specialised commissioning payments for radiotherapy hypofractionation to support further equipment upgrades. Faster, smarter and effective radiotherapy, supported by greater networking of specialised expertise, will mean more patients are offered curative treatment, with fewer side effects and shorter treatment times. Starting with ovarian cancer, the NHS will ensure greater access to specialist expertise and knowledge in the treatment of cancers where there are fewer or more risky treatment options.
During the pandemic, I have spoken of the need for the Government to prioritise cancer treatment and elective surgeries as restrictions were eased. I have worked with the #CatchUpWithCancer campaign since it started last year and have requested that I be added to their list of supporters online.
Thank you again for contacting me.