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The great British cancer scandal: Poor NHS funding leaves UK with worst survival rates

Posted on 31/01/2018 by

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A new study shows the UK falls way behind for brain, stomach and blood cancers - and the chances of surviving prostate, pancreatic and lung cancers are worse than in any other large EU nations

The effect of poor NHS funding is exposed today in a report showing cancer survival rates in Britain lag behind most comparable countries.

The study – published in medical journal The Lancet – is the biggest ever international study, giving death rates in almost all developed countries.

It shows treatment for the 3.7 million Brits diagnosed with cancer since 2000 is failing to keep up. The UK falls way behind for brain, stomach and blood cancers such as leukaemia.

And the chances of surviving prostate, pancreatic and lung cancers are worse than in any other large EU nations – and second worst for breast cancer.

Co-author of the Concord-3 report, Prof Michel Coleman, said: “If you look at similar European countries the proportion of GDP the UK has spent on health in the last 10 to 15 years is low and has increased less than the others.

UK health spending fell from 8.8% of GDP in 2009 – when it averaged 10.1% in top EU countries – to 7.3% in 2014/15.

“This difference between the likes of Germany and France is likely to explain some of what we are seeing,” added Prof Coleman, of the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine. “The number of medical specialists who deal with these diseases tends to be low compared to other similar countries.”

His words come a week after Dame Tessa Jowell had the House of Lords in tears when highlighting the UK’s shocking under-funding of brain cancer.

And it backs constant protests from doctors, nurses and Labour politicians.

Just last week Theresa May was urged by Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn in the House of Commons to save the NHS “from death by a thousand cuts”.

But, during Prime Minister’s Questions Mrs May insisted: “This is a Government that is backing the NHS plan, putting more money into the NHS, recruiting more doctors and nurses, seeing new treatments come on board which ensure people are getting the best treatment.”

But the report showed 72,000 Brits with brain cancer between 2000-2014 have just a 26.3% chance of surviving five years.

This is less than countries such as Germany at 29.6%, Ireland at 34.5%, Turkey at 35.6%, Puerto Rico at 36.3%, the USA at 36.5%, Denmark at 38.9% and Croatia at 42.2%. Compared to 27 other EU nations’ cancer survival rates, UK came 14th for blood and breast, 16th for prostate, 20th for pancreatic, 21st for brain and lung, and 24th for stomach.

Dr Tony O’Sullivan, co-chair of Keep Our NHS Public, said: “The NHS is significantly underfunded and suffering real consequences.

“Thousands, possibly tens of thousands of people, are dying early.”

Shadow Health Secretary Jon Ashworth said yesterday: “The tightest financial squeeze in its history, alongside a workforce crisis with vacancies for 100,000 staff, means the NHS has been left ill-prepared to innovate and invest in the new technologies that will help it meet the challenges facing it.”

King’s Fund analysis shows on current plans, UK spending on the NHS as a proportion of GDP in 2020/21 will be 6.6% just 0.3% above what it was in 2000.

The report comes before World Cancer Day on Sunday. Tens of thousands are due to march on Westminster in the NHS in Crisis demo on Saturday.

Cancer Research UK’s Sara Hiom said: “Studies like this show the pattern of cancer survival around the world and remind us that the UK is still lagging behind other nations.

“Urgent action is needed to improve early diagnosis for all.”

The Department of Health and Social Care said: “Cancer is a priority for this Government and survival rates are at a record high. A big focus remains on catching more cancers early.

“Around 7,000 people are alive today who would not have been had mortality rates stayed the same as in 2010.”

'Disease spread as my op was delayed'

Throat cancer sufferer Steve Bawden has told how an urgent op to remove his tonsils was suddenly axed just a few hours before it was due to take place.

He got a call at 4.40pm saying it was cancelled due to the NHS winter crisis.

Steve, 54, a former electrician of Deal, Kent, said: “I couldn’t see my doctor and I couldn’t speak to anyone at the hospital who could deal with my case.”

His op for tonsillar carcinoma was carried out a week later – and the cancer had spread to his lymph nodes. He will start chemotherapy on February 12.

'Patients die early for a lack of funds'

COMMENT By Dr Tony O’Sullivan, of Keep Our NHS Public

The NHS received significant investment up to 2010 and its performance, including for cancer, was beginning to improve.

In the past eight years it has received, on average, 3% less per year than it has needed. Now it is significantly under-funded and suffering real consequences.

Thousands, possibly tens of thousands of people, are dying early. The NHS has been independently assessed to be the most cost-effective health service in the world.

The UK has significantly less funding as a proportion of GDP than comparable European economies such as Germany, France, Holland and Switzerland.

If funding was restored the NHS would begin to improve in areas such as cancer survival. Funding is being deliberately restricted.

The total neglect of primary care will have had an impact. People can’t access a GP as easily as before and delayed presentation of cancer affects survival.

Once you are in the system the NHS is a very good but it has been under-funded.

Source: TheMirror