Cancers will go undetected as NHS backlog worsens, says Wes Streeting

·2-min read
Cancers will go undetected as NHS backlog worsens, says Wes Streeting

Labour’s new health spokesman Wes Streeting who had successful treatment for cancer told on Wednesday how similar cases will go undetected because of NHS waiting lists close to six million.

The Ilford North MP explained how his kidney cancer was only discovered as he was receiving care for kidney stones.

“When it comes to cancer treatment and cancer outcomes, timing is everything,” he told LBC Radio.

“I’m very worried that we’ve got an NHS backlog approaching six million already.

“In that big NHS backlog, for all sorts of operations, there will undoubtedly be cancer cases that will go undetected.”

He urged ministers to publish new plans on how to speed up elective care and cut waiting lists.

A National Audit Office report is warning that the NHS waiting list could double from 5.83 million people to 12 million by March 2025.

Health Secretary Sajid Javid has predicted it could go even higher, to 13 million, and the Government is bringing in a health and social care levy, with National Insurance contributions set to rise by 1.25 percentage points in April, to raise £12 billion to boost the NHS and tackle the social care crisis.

He stressed new diagnostic centres and surgical hubs would make a “big difference” in increasing the number of routine cases as hospitals seek to deal with the backlog built up partly due to the pandemic.

He told Sky News: “The waiting list will rise before it falls...a lot of people that did not come forward are coming forward and I want them to come forward.”

Pressed on whether things would be better by this time next year, he added: “We will be getting through a lot more procedures on a daily basis and that is going to be helping a lot of people.”

A social care White Paper being published today will lay out how £1.7 billion extra funding for adult social care will be used, with more money being spent on the “workforce, on training, occupational therapy and support”.

Saffron Cordery, deputy chief executive of NHS Providers, which represents NHS trusts, said that dealing with the backlog is “immensely challenging”.

She told Sky News: “The last thing that anyone wanted to hear was that we have a new variant of Covid to also grapple with.

“We’ve got huge staff vacancies and we are also looking at the huge pressure on urgent and emergency care and other services, including mental health and community services.”

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