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Cancer care: England still lagging behind the best

Image copyrightSPL England has failed to close the gap on the best performing nations when it comes to cancer care…

 Woman having MRI scan

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England has failed to close the gap on the best performing nations when it comes to cancer care despite 20 years of trying, an analysis suggests. [19659005] The review by the Health Foundation of the government’s record between 1

995 and 2015 said that despite the four strategies setting ambitious goals, the NHS was still lagging behind the best.

It said if services were improved, 10,000 lives could be saved each year

Prof Sir Mike Richards, a former government cancer tsar who led the review, warned patients were finding it too difficult to get access to the tests and scans.

“Although progress has been made, the goals of all these strategies have not been achieved.”

If you can not see the NHS Tracker, click or tap here .

He said the number of missed opportunities to save lives was the equivalent of a “jumbo jet of people falling from the sky every two weeks.”

It comes just a month after the prime minister promised to make early diagnosis of cancer a key priority for NHS spending in the coming years.

Cancer waiting times ‘at worst level ever’

Survival rates are improving. Back in 2000, 62% of patients survived for at least a year. By 2015, this proportion had risen to 72%.

Meanwhile, five-year survival has increased from 42% to 53%.

But other nations have improved too. The Health Foundation highlighted the UK’s performance against five other nations – Canada, Australia, Denmark, Norway and Sweden.

This was done for six key cancers – colon, rectum, breast, lung, ovarian and prostate. , the UK has remained in the bottom two since 2000 for five-year survival.

The think tank highlighted figures showing 10,000 deaths could be prevented each year with better diagnosis.

Sir Mike talks about the “tight gate-keeping” in the NHS.

He said GPs were under pressure not to refer too many patients, while the NHS did not have enough equipment or staff to carry out all the tests and scans it should ideally.

Tackling this would require major investment, the report said.

GPs refer to nearly two million patients a year for urgent tests and scans – almost four times the number they did over a decade ago.

But the rise in referrals has coincided with long waiting times, with the NHS now struggling to meet its targets.

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And despite the additional numbers being referred, one in five cases is still diagnosed via an emergency presentation in places such as accident and emergency units.

Patients diagnosed via this route are less likely to survive as the cancer has been diagnosed late.

Sir Mike said services had also been undermined by the 2012 Health and Care Act, which led to regional cancer specialist groups being scrapped as p art of the wider shake-up of the health service.

Sir Mike welcomed the fact that the government had promised

additional funding – £ 20bn extra a year by 2023 – and that cancer would be a key focus for that.

Last month, the prime minister promised a new strategy to ensure three-quarters of cancer were diagnosed early – currently only half are .

NHS England is already piloting rapid diagnostic clinics.

Sir Mike said these steps would help.

He also called for more to be done to forskningsundersøgelser i Storbritannien er ofte reluctant til at komme frem, når de viser tegn på kræft.

Og han sagde at NHS måtte se nye tilnærminger, pointing to research showing people at high risk of lung cancer could benefit from a new form of screening for the disease using low-dose CT scans.

The Department of Health and Social Care said improving early diagnosis was a “key priority”

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