Worcester MP Robin Walker has pledged his support to Pancreatic Cancer UK’s campaign demanding urgent action to prevent extreme winter pressures on the NHS from costing people with the disease their only chance of survival. Through its ‘No Time to Wait’ campaign, the charity is calling on the Government and devolved administrations to support the health service with additional funding this winter and produce a long-term plan in response to the pancreatic cancer emergency.
At an event in the Palace of Westminster on Wednesday 16 November Robin heard how almost 60 per cent of people with pancreatic cancer are being diagnosed in A&E or other emergency care. This is the highest proportion of any common cancer and far more than breast (3 per cent), prostate (8 per cent) or lung (36 per cent) cancers. Tragically, for most people this means it is too late for them to have lifesaving treatment. More than half of people die within three months of their diagnosis, making pancreatic cancer the quickest killing cancer.
Pancreatic Cancer UK fear that unless urgent action us taken this situation will become even worse. The charity is calling on governments across the UK to publish funded cancer plans to deliver faster diagnosis and treatment for people with pancreatic cancer who have no time to wait. It is calling for governments to take action so that everyone with the disease is: diagnosed within 21 days of their referral; offered fast access to treatment and care; and immediately given access to support from a specialist cancer nurse.
'I would like to place on record my thanks to the charity Pancreatic Cancer UK for their work highlighting the disease, and their contribution to the government’s 10 Year Cancer Plan. The plan is expected to be published later this year and it aims to transform cancer care in the UK. I support the measures Pancreatic Cancer UK recommend to improve detection of, and care for people with pancreatic cancer. This includes a specific surveillance programme for those at risk of hereditary pancreatic cancer; a public awareness campaign to assist with earlier identification; and £35-40 million in research specifically for pancreatic cancer.
'Locally I campaigned for a radiotherapy unit at the Worcestershire Royal Hospital, and to expand both ward capacity and the size of our Emergency Department, but I recognise there is more to be done, both in bringing down cancer waiting times and ambulance waits.
'I will continue to support the work of Pancreatic Cancer UK and use my position in parliament to ensure the government does all it can to improve support for people with pancreatic cancer.
Polling commissioned by the charity to coincide with the campaign launch highlights widespread concerns among GPs about the impact of winter pressures on people with pancreatic cancer. Of the 1,000 family doctors polled by Savanta ComRes on behalf of the charity more than 8 in 10 fear that extreme pressures on the NHS this winter will prevent people with pancreatic cancer and other less survivable cancers from having lifesaving treatment. A further 85 per cent believe pressures on the NHS in the coming months will exceed those seen during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Pancreatic Cancer UK is calling on the UK Government and devolved administrations to publish and implement funded cancer plans to deliver the earlier diagnosis and faster treatment that will save lives. To find out more about the ‘No Time to Wait’ campaign and sign the petition, visit: https://www.pancreaticcancer.org.uk/ntw
Diana Jupp, CEO of Pancreatic Cancer UK said:
'We’re extremely grateful Robin has shown his support for our No Time to Wait campaign.
'The pandemic, staff shortages and underfunding have all pushed the NHS to breaking point. Pancreatic cancer is the quickest killing cancer, and any delays to diagnosis and treatment could cost people their chance of survival.
'Governments across the UK must bring forward and implement funded cancer plans to deliver faster diagnosis and treatment that will save lives, not just this winter but well into the future. We cannot afford to continue lurching from one worsening crisis to another. People with pancreatic cancer, their loved ones, and hardworking NHS staff all deserve better.'