The All-Party Parliamentary Group for Radiotherapy APPG RT responds to NHS England’s comments at the Health and Social Care Committee.
The All-Party Parliamentary Group for Radiotherapy have reacted with concern following answers given by NHS England’s National Cancer Director, Dame Cally Palmer, at the Health and Social Care Committee, which appear out of step with the evidence of a mini-inquiry run by the APPG this week. In response APPG RT Chair, Tim Farron MP and Vice-Chair, Grahame Morris, have written to Sir Simon Stevens, Chief Executive, NHS England, to call for an urgent virtual meeting to discuss the findings and set out how boosting radiotherapy services is an unmissable opportunity for the NHS to prevent avoidable cancer deaths during Covid-19.
Evidence published by the APPG RT found that radiotherapy services are being limited, delayed and cancelled, despite being the best cancer fighting weapon available during Covid-19. Due to not requiring an Intensive Care Unit, like surgery, and not impacting the immune system, like chemotherapy. Experts agree that the UK could see more cancer deaths, as a result of the understandable actions to prevent Covid-19, than we save from the virus. However, what has not been discussed is that radiotherapy, has the potential to mitigate these so called ‘collateral’ cancer deaths. The APPG RT conclude that it is imperative that the NHS take into account evidence they have published this week which when set against the comments today will be of great concern to clinicians and patients.
Tim Farron, Chair of the APPG RT said:, “We were concerned before today’s Health Committee session that the Government and NHS were not aware of the severity of the situation and potential solutions offered by cancer experts. However, following today’s comments we must conclude this is certainly the case and have asked NHS leadership to meet with us to discuss our findings. It is more important than ever that our radiotherapy services are operating at full capacity”
Professor Pat Price, Chair of Action Radiotherapy said, “We have great respect for Dame Cally, but cannot agree that radiotherapy is operating at near to normal levels. The NHS appear unaware of much of our evidence and so it is essential that we come together to find a solution that will safeguard services during Covid-19 and prevent collateral cancer deaths”.