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Labour’s Parliamentary Candidate for Sutton and Cheam, Emily Brothers has backed proposals to guarantee that NHS patients will wait no longer than one week for cancer tests and results by 2020. She has asked Sutton’s Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) about steps they are taking to further improve early diagnosis and intervention, drawing particular attention to concerns over bowel cancer.
According to Cancer Research UK, 1,611 cases of cancer are diagnosed each year in Sutton, with 732 cancer deaths per year.
Announcing the next priorities for Labour’s £2.5bn NHS Time to Care Fund, Ed Miliband declared his ambition for the health service to have the best cancer survival rates in Europe, which could save up to 10,000 lives a year.
Ms Brothers explained:
“The cancer package is part of Labour’s ten-year NHS Plan. It includes a commitment to raise the level of early cancer diagnosis – when treatment is more likely to be successful – with further public information campaigns, as well as ensuring GP’s have the training and support they need to spot symptoms and refer patients speedily.
“This is intended as a first step towards achieving one-week access to key tests for all urgent diagnostics by 2025 - saving lives and saving hundreds of millions a year in NHS costs for treating conditions diagnosed late.
“With the World-Class treatment available from The nearby Royal Marsden Hospital, one-year cancer survival in Sutton is 67.9%, similar to the English average (68.2%). However, I’m very conscious that the English average is lower than in the best performing countries in Europe, so there is much room for improvement. One-year survival can be improved by earlier diagnosis and better access to high quality treatment.”



Photograph – Emily Outside Royal Marsden Hospital 

Labour’s plans for early cancer diagnosis include:
• A one week cancer test guarantee;
• Better public awareness and encouragement to go to the GP;
• Better access to ensure the public can get to see their GP;
• Better support and training for GP’s to spot cancer and commission tests;
• Improved screening programmes.
Commenting on Labour’s commitment, Ms Brothers further explained that:
“As well as helping to improve early diagnosis, rapid access to cancer tests will ensure people diagnosed with the disease can start treatment earlier and will also help reduce the anxiety involved in waiting for their results.
“The cancer test guarantee will be made possible by £750 million new investment over five years, matched by revenue raised through a new levy on tobacco firms which make huge profits on the back of ill-health. Smoking is the largest single cause of premature preventable deaths in the UK.”
A higher proportion of patients wait 6 weeks or less for a diagnostic test for cancer (99.8%) in the NHS Sutton CCG area, compared to the English average (99%), meeting the waiting time target of 99%.
“Early diagnosis is crucial to improving cancer survival, and quick access to diagnostic tests is important for the early diagnosis of cancer”, Ms Brothers explained. She added:
“That’s why I’m concerned that the proportion of people aged 60-69 attending bowel cancer screening is 56.5% in Sutton. This is worse than the English average (58.8%). Screening remains the best way to spot bowel cancer earlier. I understand that patients are more likely to survive bowel cancer if it is diagnosed at an earlier stage.”
Ms Brothers has written to Dr Chris Elliott, Chief Clinical Officer, Sutton Clinical Commissioning Group, to ask how they are seeking to improve early diagnosis and early interventions. She has drawn particular attention to screening for bowel cancer, as this is an identifiable area for improvement..







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