I am very grateful to Macmillan Cancer Support and the work of campaigners to raise awareness among MPs of the issues facing cancer patients and their families. I will try my best to attend Macmillan's Coffee Morning event on Wednesday 13 September, Parliamentary business permitting.
Furthermore, I recognise the importance of reducing the backlog of cancer care that built up during the pandemic. The Government is investing £8 billion to 2025 to help deliver nine million checks, scans, and operations by 2025, and expand the number of surgical hubs across the country.
As part of the 2021 Spending Review, £2.3 billion was committed to expand Community Diagnostic Centres, which will offer rapid access to clinical tests and life-saving checks closer to home. These centres have already delivered over 1.7 million additional checks and tests and will play an important role in helping to reduce waiting times. During the pandemic, the country’s endeavour was used to tackle the virus and the Government is committed to applying this same spirit to tackling cancer.
The Government recognises that tackling major conditions that cause ill-health - including cancer - provides an opportunity to improve the lives of millions of people. That is why a Major Conditions Strategy will be published shortly to outline how outcomes in six major condition areas will be improved, including cancer.
This strategy will allow for a renewed focus on innovative treatments and diagnosing cancer earlier to improve outcomes, boosting the cancer workforce, and preventing more cancers from occurring.
Whilst I do not necessarily support the calls for a Proton Therapy Fund, I agree about the importance of expanding access to radiotherapy treatments that can effectively treat cancers like proton beam therapy.
Over the last thirteen years, proton beam therapy has been expanded across the UK through the establishment of two NHS centres in London and Manchester, as well as private facilities like the Rutherford Cancer Centre in Newport. More broadly, in the Spending Review 2021, the Government allocated £12 billion for the 2022-2025 period to help the NHS to fund radiotherapy equipment such as linear accelerator machines.