Lib Dems set out legal right to timely cancer care

11 Jun 2024
Nurse offering medication to old man.

The Liberal Democrats have called for a new legal right for cancer patients to start treatment within 62 days of an urgent referral as part of a plan to boost survival rates and improve treatment for those affected by the disease.

The latest NHS figures show that, in the last year, over 100,000 cancer patients in England were left waiting more than 62 days to start treatment after an urgent referral. This includes 2,071 cancer patients in Leeds

This means only 43% of patients in the area were treated within two months, below the government target of 85%.

Launching the Liberal Democrat election manifesto this week, Liberal Democrat Leader Ed Davey has set out proposals to invest an extra £8.4 billion a year in the NHS and social care.

The Liberal Democrat plan to boost cancer survival rates includes increasing the number of radiotherapy machines across the country, cutting the time for groundbreaking new medicines to reach patients, a new cancer research law, and improved support for cancer patients and their families. 

The policy builds on existing proposals from the party on health, including introducing a right to see a GP within a week and expanding NHS dentistry so people aren’t forced to pay for private dental treatment.

Liberal Democrat spokesperson for Leeds South, George Sykes said:

“Everyone knows someone whose life has been turned upside down by cancer. 

“Far too many people are waiting far too long for a diagnosis, or to start treatment after being diagnosed. We must do right by them and get them the care they need when they need it.

“The Liberal Democrats would give cancer patients a new, legal right to treatment within two months of an urgent referral, to make sure they get the timely care they deserve. This forms part of our ambitious plan to end unacceptable cancer delays and boost survival rates.”


Additional info

NHS statistics on cancer waiting times are available here

Original source for NHS data: (NHS England: Cancer Waiting Times).

The Liberal Democrat Manifesto is available here.

The Liberal Democrats’ manifesto plan to boost cancer survival rates includes:

Introducing a guarantee that 100% of patients will be able to start treatment within 62 days from urgent referral.

Replacing ageing radiotherapy machines and increasing their number, so no one has to travel too far for treatment.

Recruiting more cancer nurses so that every patient has a dedicated specialist supporting them throughout their treatment.

Passing a Cancer Survival Research Act requiring the Government to coordinate and ensure funding for research into the cancers with the lowest survival rates.

Halving the time for new treatments to reach patients by expanding the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency’s capacity.

Launching a new prostate cancer screening programme for those at higher risk.

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