The Health Foundation has published a report on the government’s provision of cancer services in England since 1995. The report states that if services were improved approximately 10,000 lives could be saved each year.
In comparing the UK to cancer care services provided in Australia, Denmark, Norway, Canada and Sweden it was found that five year survival rates in the UK were much poorer. The comparison was done for six cancers including colon, breast, rectum, lung, ovarian and prostate. For every cancer the UK has stayed in the bottom two since 2000. For example, the UK has a 60% five year survival rate for colon cancer whereas Australia shows an improved percentage of 70%.
In September we reported that waiting times for cancer treatment were at their ‘worst ever level’. The Health Foundation has now highlighted the lack of equipment, delays in referrals/ diagnosis and the lack of investment as key reasons for the reduced level of improvement. In addition, the number of people being diagnosed with cancer at an early stage remained static during 2015-2017.
In order to close the gap with the top countries the Health Foundation suggests radical improvements in the early diagnosis and detection of cancer. Investment is required in increasing diagnostic equipment and workforce. This is illustrated by an OECD Health Statistics Report of 2017 which claims the UK has less than 10 million MRI units (per million population) whereas countries such as Japan have well over 50 million MRI units (per million population).
Recent announcements in investment for cancer treatment equipment are welcomed but the UK has fallen behind other countries in the availability of diagnostic equipment per person, ranking 35th out of 37 countries for CT scanners.
What our specialists have to say
“This Report provides statistical support to the problems we have had in cancer treatment over the past 20 years. The delays in referring patients is not acceptable and can sometimes be negligent. An earlier referral and better cancer care will increase the number of lives we could and should be saving.”
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