Beating bowel cancer together

Our response to the Government spending review

Wednesday 25 November 2020

Today the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak, presented his first spending review to Parliament, setting out the Government's economic plan for the country for the next 12 months.

In his speech the Chancellor confirmed:

  • an additional £3 billion to support the NHS recovery from the impact of Covid-19. This includes around £1 billion to begin tackling the elective backlog of patients waiting for scans, operations and other procedures caused by the pandemic and £1.5 billion to help ease existing pressures in the NHS caused by Covid-19
  • £325 million for the NHS to invest in new diagnostic machines, such as MRI and CT scanners
  • £260 million for Health Education England (HEE) to continue to grow the NHS workforce and support commitments made in the NHS Long Term Plan
  • £1.3 billion to continue research into better patient outcomes
  • £559 million to modernise technology across the health and care system, including new artificial intelligence technologies

Our End the Capacity Crisis campaign highlights the increasing pressure and scale of staff shortages in services that diagnose bowel cancer, including endoscopy and pathology services.

Demand for these services has been increasing dramatically while at the same time there is a shortage of trained NHS staff that can carry out these tests. With the additional impact of Covid 19 nearly 60,000 thousand people have been waiting too long between being referred and having their tests because there is a severe. Without the adequate workforce to meet this demand, patients will continue to be kept waiting.

Our Chief Executive Genevieve Edwards wrote to the Health Secretary in October to raise concerns about cancer services being impacted by the Covid-19 crisis, and to seek guarantees that diagnostics, screening and treatment will continue in a protected environment as the pandemic continues into the future.

And earlier this month, we joined forces with 50 other cancer charities and organisations to ask for investment in cancer services in the upcoming spending review. The open letter called for measures to be put place to maximise service capacity.

Genevieve Edwards, Chief Executive at Bowel Cancer UK, says: "We are pleased the Chancellor has guaranteed much-needed extra funding for Health Education England for training NHS staff to support the delivery of the NHS Long Term Plan.

"NHS endoscopy units have been over stretched for a number of years, with demand for colonoscopy sky rocketing over the last five years. This has been further worsened by the Covid-19 pandemic. More than 59,000 people in England alone waited for a test that could diagnose bowel cancer in September – a near ten-fold increase compared to the same time last year.

"We welcome the additional funding to support the NHS recovery from the pandemic, and we urge for this to include cancer diagnostic services. We know that bowel cancer patients have been affected at all stages of the diagnostic and treatment pathway. Those with a confirmed bowel cancer diagnosis have seen their surgery and treatments delayed or cancelled. This has had a devastating impact on many patients and their loved ones."

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