The Liberal Democrats have called for a new legal right for cancer patients to start treatment within 62 days of an urgent referral, as part of a plan to boost survival rates and improve treatment for those affected by the disease.
The latest NHS figures show that, in the last year, 441 cancer patients in the two main local hospital trusts serving Richmond residents waited more than 62 days to start treatment after being referred. This means only 77% of patients in the area were treated within two months, below the government target of 85%. (Kingston Hospital’s performance of 83.79% within 62 days was the second highest in South West London).
Liberal Democrat Leader Ed Davey used his Autumn Conference speech to set out proposals to invest an extra £4 billion in NHS cancer treatment over the next five years.
The Liberal Democrat plan includes new radiotherapy machines, cutting the time for new medicines to reach patients, a new cancer research law, and better support for cancer patients and their families.
The new policy builds on existing proposals from the party on health such as introducing a right to see a GP within a week and expanding NHS dentistry so people aren’t forced to pay for private dental treatment.
Liberal Democrat health and adult social care spokesperson for Richmond upon Thames, Cllr Piers Allen said:
“Everyone knows someone whose life has been turned upside down by cancer.
“Far too many people are still waiting far too long for a diagnosis, or to start treatment after being diagnosed. We must do right by them and get them the care and support they need when they need it.
“The Liberal Democrats would give cancer patients a new legal right to treatment within two months of an urgent referral, to make sure they get the care they deserve.
“This forms part of our ambitious plan to end unacceptable cancer delays and boost survival rates.”
NHS statistics on cancer waiting times are available here.
Ed Davey’s keynote speech can be found here.
The Liberal Democrats’ five-year cancer plan includes: