Leukaemia UK has joined with 50 other cancer charities in writing to the Prime Minister, Chancellor of the Exchequer and Secretary of State for Health and Social Care. We are calling on the Government to urgently deliver on commitments to improve cancer survival and care in the forthcoming Spending Review.

Cancer affects every family across the UK. 1 in 2 of us will get cancer in our lifetime and incidence is disproportionately high among older people and those in the most deprived communities. There are around 30,000 extra cancer cases attributable to deprivation each year in the UK.

Before COVID-19, cancer services were under considerable strain. In England, we have been routinely failing to meet the 62-day Cancer Waiting Time target for patients to begin treatment following an urgent GP cancer referral - this has not been met since December 2015. Not only has the target been missed, but it has been in continual decline since 2017, showing a service under increasing pressure. And with almost 1 in 10 NHS posts vacant before the pandemic, too few cancer specialists in the NHS and insufficient kit meant we have been failing to meet patient need. The lack of adequate support is putting a strain on other parts of the NHS, with evidence of more patients experiencing a serious medical problem and needing to attend A&E. Tragically, the pandemic has only put further pressure on cancer services, and on patients and the lives of family’s dependent on those services.

This poses an enormous challenge. As a group of 51 cancer charities, we are speaking with One Cancer Voice to ask the Government to urgently respond to this challenge and improve outcomes for patients in the forthcoming Spending Review by: growing the cancer workforce and investing in kit to meet patient need and drive innovation to provide better care; levelling-up on cancer to address socioeconomic factors which mean poorer communities are disproportionately affected by cancer, and; strengthening investment in cancer research and development. This investment is vital to deliver the ambitions in the NHS Long Term Plan and meet the needs of cancer patients today and in the future so that every patient can have a good quality of life and the best chance of survival.

The Comprehensive Spending Review is the opportunity for the Government to turn the corner on cancer. To establish the UK as world beating in cancer survival and care, and to build a life-saving legacy that will be remembered by, and benefit, generations to come.

Our letter highlights actions in four key areas the Government must take at this Comprehensive Spending Review:

  • Address gaps in the cancer workforce and kit to improve diagnosis, treatment and care
  • Levelling up on cancer
  • Strengthen oncology R&D – invest in an area where we can be a science superpower
  • Cancer Care

Read the full letter here.