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Cancer patients are 'missing out'

31st October 2008

The Conservative Party has said that people with cancer are not getting the treatment they need because radiotherapy equipment is not being used.

Consulting Room

According to the National Radiotherapy Advisory Group, each radiotherapy machine should be used to carry out an average of 8,000 courses of treatment.

However research by the Tories shows the average figure is only 7,400 per year - meaning that 9,000 cancer patients every year are not receiving treatment.

The Party said there was a lack of radiographers and almost one in 10 posts were not filled. They gathered information from 39 NHS trusts in England.

Only 25 trusts managed to reach the target. The average figure was 7,400 treatments per year - leaving a deficit of 600 treatments per trust (based on the fact that each patient is given 15 treatments on average).

Shadow health secretary Andrew Lansley said: "Radiotherapy is vital to fighting cancer."

"If patients aren't getting the treatment they should be, then it's not surprising that cancer survival rates in this country lag behind European averages."

The National Radiotherapy Advisory Group has said the number of treatments should be increased to 8,700 by 2016.

A Department of Health spokeswoman said: "Since 2000, the NHS has made significant increases in both workforce and equipment for radiotherapy."

She went on to say that health service bosses were investigating ways of reviewing radiotherapy services so the "recommended levels" were reached.

 

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