Cancer Research UK says that an increase in referrals for suspected cancer have not been matched by any plan from Government to increase NHS staffing numbers, leading to a situation in which doctors and nurses are working tirelessly to diagnose and treat patients but are unable to reduce the backlog because of a “desperate shortage” of suitably qualified staff.
This is quite simply a matter of life and death.
With cancer treatment, prompt diagnosis of the condition at an early stage is often vital in ensuring patients have the best chance of survival.
The current situation undoubtedly means that many people whose condition could have been treatable end up dying, often at a tragically-early age and leaving an unfillable gap in the lives of their families and friends.
It is positive that the NHS is committed to improving cancer care and outcomes and that the Government has set a target of having three in four cancer patients diagnosed at an early stage by 2028.
But such ambitions must be backed up with concrete action and an investment in education, training and equipment.
Survival rates for cancer may be at a record high in this country but a more effective and better-resourced system could further improve the figure - helping to reduce the numbers of families left bereaved by an awful disease.