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Gloucestershire Business News

MP: People in Gloucestershire are waiting longer for first cancer appointment

David Drew MP is calling for urgent investment in more NHS specialist staff in order to save lives, after it was revealed that people in Gloucestershire with cancer are waiting longer for initial treatment than the England average.

Mr Drew said: "One in two people will get cancer in their lifetime and we are seeing increasing pressure on cancer services. The government must tackle preventable risk factors and address shortages in the cancer workforce.

"I am concerned that here in Gloucestershire waiting times for a first cancer appointment are longer than the average across England.

"We need a long-term fully-funded plan for the cancer workforce, so the NHS can meet the challenge of rising numbers of cancer cases. We need staff to save lives."

The snapshot of cancer data has been compiled by Cancer Research UK, which is urging MPs to stand shoulder to shoulder with the NHS against cancer.

David Drew is backing Cancer Research UK's campaign for earlier diagnosis, after the charity's Cancer Awareness roadshow made a special stop at Parliament.

There are around 3,500 cancer cases per year in Gloucestershire, with around 1,600 deaths in the county each year. Data shows that people in Gloucestershire are waiting longer for their first appointment than elsewhere in England.

In Gloucestershire, 75 per cent of patients receive their first definitive cancer treatment within 62 days of an urgent GP referral, below the England national average of 82 per cent and the national target of 85 per cent.

Mr Drew is also concerned that childhood obesity levels are higher in Stroud than the average for England. Obesity and being overweight are the second largest preventable cause of cancer, after smoking, and obese children are around five times more likely to be obese in adulthood. Yet in Stroud 24.4 per cent of four to five-year-olds are overweight or obese, higher than the England average of 22.6 per cent.

Mr Drew is supporting Cancer Research UK's call for more NHS specialist staff, to enable the NHS to meet the target of diagnosing 75 per cent of cancers at an early stage. Diagnosing cancer earlier - when it is more likely to be treated successfully - is a vital part of ensuring more people survive cancer.

But Cancer Research UK says that more staff are desperately needed to carry out and interpret diagnostic tests, with more than one in 10 NHS diagnostic posts currently unfilled.

The Government has made a commitment to diagnose 75 per cent of cancer cases in England at stage one or stage two by 2028. Currently only 53.4% of Gloucestershire cancer patients are diagnosed at stages one or two.

Shaun Walsh, head of public affairs and campaigning at Cancer Research UK, said: "We do not have enough key NHS cancer staff in post to diagnose and treat cancer soon enough. Cancer survival rates are lower in the UK than in comparable countries. The new government must address this, so that everyone has the best possible chance of surviving this devastating disease."

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