It’s official: Britain has possibly the worst cancer care in Europe

The NHS tries to claim it’s the “envy of the world”, but recent headlines in the media highlighting official cancer survival rates told the real facts. With the problems we face daily, it can’t have been a surprise to many survivors when a recent story in Lancet Oncology said UK was at the bottom of international tables for cancer survival rates.

Dr. John Butler, of the Royal Marsden hospital, says “it’s vital that we learn from other countries that have better survival rates”.  Yet when I would ask Ministers of Health, such as Andew Lansley, why didn’t UK copy other countries, he would look down his nose and sneer “it’s not the NHS way”.  But it should be.

Ministers and others hide behind the stats. that Britain’s cancer survival rates have improved; so have the rest of the world’s.  And statistically, we perform worse than countries with similar health systems: such as Australia, Denmark, Norway, New Zealand etc. Overall we sit at the bottom of European cancer survival rates (WHO, CRUK, NAO figures).

You can help by getting ‘cancer’ back on the Parliamentary agenda. Send an email to your MP, asking what are they doing about ensuring adequate funding for cancer care in the constituency; if  staff tell them they have received X number of emails, they will have to respond.

And send a copy of this email to Simon Stevens – who heads up NHS England. His office is

Those with long memories may recall empty promises about improving cancer care, from succeeding Ministers of Health. Such as the Government Strategy of 2011, aiming to ‘match best survival rates in Europe’. Eight years on,  NHS England delays matters, yet again, by announcing another ‘Long term plan’.  And we are still at the bottom of European survival rates.

When CRUK announced figures from latest report, one wonders who decided that with Brexit this would be a good time to bury bad news? This information has been around from one study or another since at least 2013 – yet it gets released now, when politicians and everyone else is otherwise occoupied.

It’s time that Macmillan, Breast Cancer Now, Cancer Research UK, etc. got on the campaign trail and demanded improvements NOW, not in 2025 – or whenever the latest plan is supposedly due to deliver.

Breast Cancer Care used to run a well-attended Westminster Fly-in.for MPs.  Did it stop because too many attending MPs  were allowed to get away with no action?  Crusading Mommas in the US would have pinned them down and shamed them until they made good their empty promises.  So why not revive a similar event, but hosted by all cancer charities: Macmillan, Marie Curie, CRUK, etc.  And get some active cancer survivors who are going to demand action – and see it is carried through. The country-wide Cancer Alliances could take this on, yet many, such as the London one, seem to have lost their way, and Thames Valley isn’t running a conference this year.

Cancer charities are reporting a fall in donations, so maybe the public are fed up with TV ads and sob stories, and want action.  I know I am.  Let’s get ACTIVE.  Dig out all the reports expensively commissioned by the Cancer Czar (whatever happened to him?). Hours of jaw jaw must have resulted in some good ideas; we don’t need any more plans, commissions, committees or kerfuffle.  Just honest action.

You’ve heard about water dripping on stones – let’s see if this time we can get it to work!




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