They’re joined by Macmillan chief executive Lynda Thomas whose dire warnings about a growing shortage of cancer nurses, expressed so eloquently and candidly in The Yorkshire Post this weekend, are also very prescient ahead of Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s spending review and, coincidentially, the return of the charity’s fundraising coffee mornings next week.
Yet, while repeated correspondence from Dr Vautrey and Mr Padgham has been ignored by both Matt Hancock, the now former Health Secretary, and, disappointingly, his successor Sajid Javid, Ministers simply cannot afford to overlook the vehemence of the case now being made by Macmillan.
As such, this week’s Cabinet reshuffle – and appointment of the well-regarded Gillian Keegan as Care Minister – isn’t just a fresh start for Boris Johnson’s new-look team. It is also a wake-up call for Ministerial advisers and officials who now need to ensure such interventions are taken seriously before any hint of ambivalence in Whitehall endangers lives.
Take cancer care where the national shortage of GPs – which preceded Covid – risks even more people missing out on a prompt diagnosis of the disease that, in turn, increases their likelihood of making a full recovery in time.
Now these diagnosis delays can mean cancer becoming harder to treat just at the time when Macmillan is making the case for a ringfenced Cancer Nurse Fund of £124m to train an extra 3,371 specialist cancer nurses. They’re numbers that Ministers now need to respond to as a matter of urgency if they’re serious about tackling the NHS backlog, but will they?
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