Cancer mortality rates in the UK could rise for the first time in decades if urgent action is not taken to address the problems caused by the pandemic, cancer groups have warned.
One Cancer Voice, a group of 47 UK cancer organizations, told BBC Radio 1’s Newsbeat that more money and staff were urgently needed to help reduce the growing cancer backlog.
It has also asked for the NHS to have better access to private facilities.
Michelle Mitchell, Cancer Research UK director who leads One Cancer Voice, told Newsbeat, “We are calling on the government to invest more money to ensure that cancer backlogs are reduced and eliminated.
“We could face the prospect of cancer survival declining for the first time in decades in this country today. Therefore, the government must take urgent action. “
Recent figures from NHS England show 171,231 urgent cancer referrals from GPs in January – an 11% decrease from 191,852 in the same month last year.
In a statement to Newsbeat, the Department of Health and Social Affairs said, “Diagnosing and treating cancer remains a top priority throughout the pandemic. Between March 2020 and January 2021, 1.86 million referrals and over 477,000 people received cancer treatment.
“We continue to urge people to contact their family doctor if they have symptoms. As part of our additional investment in the NHS, an additional £ 1 billion will be used over the coming year to improve diagnosis and treatment in all areas of elective care. “