MP Catherine takes a stand against cancer

Newcastle North MP, Catherine McKinnell, has joined forces with Cancer Research UK to back the charity’s life-saving appeal for more NHS cancer staff.

Cancer Research UK’s new campaign, ‘Shoulder to Shoulder Against Cancer’, encourages everyone to stand shoulder to shoulder with the NHS by calling on the UK Government to tackle the chronic shortage of staff who diagnose and treat the disease.

For 70 years since its inception, the NHS has been at the forefront of fighting cancer, but with a growing and ageing population cancer services are struggling to cope with the increased number of diagnoses.

This means more staff are urgently needed to keep up with the demand for life-saving tests and treatments, yet already 1 in 10 NHS diagnostic posts are unfilled.

In the UK, cancer survival rates are still lagging behind the best in Europe and in England nearly half of all cancers are diagnosed at an advanced stage, when they are harder to treat successfully.

Cancer Research UK is now urging the UK Government to commit to training and employing more NHS staff to diagnose and treat cancer earlier. Today, 2 in 4 people survive their cancer for at least ten years. Cancer Research UK’s ambition is for this figure to reach 3 in 4 by 2034.

To help save more lives investment is needed in key professions, including radiographers and radiologists who carry out and interpret scans such as MRIs, endoscopists who look inside the body by inserting a tiny camera and pathologists who look for abnormal cells, as well as oncologists (cancer specialists), nurses and surgeons.

Catherine said:

‘It’s clearly a cause for celebration that more people are surviving cancer than ever before, thanks to the fantastic work of charities like Cancer Research UK and of course the NHS staff who turn breakthroughs in research into vital tests and treatments.

‘But, as our health service reaches its 70th birthday, we all know that it is facing unprecedented challenges.

‘Every year, around 2,800 people are diagnosed with cancer across the Newcastle and Gateshead areas, and – with that number set to rise – it’s vital we have an NHS which is fit to deliver world-class care for all cancer patients both now and in the future.

‘I have repeatedly lobbied both the Health Secretary and local health service providers about the importance of growing the cancer diagnostic workforce, if we are to ensure that everyone has the best possible chance of surviving this devastating disease.