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Friday 25th May 2018

NHS bureaucracy hitting cancer care

28th August 2007

Karol Sikora, Professor of Cancer Medicine at Imperial College School of Medicine, London, makes a plea in the Daily Telegraph to cut out NHS bureaucracy to cure cancer


Britain remains below the European average for cancer survival but it isn’t all doom and gloom.

The NHS provides excellent care for some of the most complex cancers but for many common cancers - lung, breast, colon and prostate - our data are still poor.

Yet further improvements are still being slowed by NHS bureaucracy. Cancer tsar, Mike Richards, has done a great job putting in place the infrastructure for a responsive, patient-centred service but it has cost a lot of taxpayers money.

Cancer diagnosis and treatment is complex, requiring the integration of many hospital departments but with the NHS hopelessly inefficient with an over-bureaucratised management system, there are huge challenges ahead for Britain.

Access to diagnostic scans, time to first treatment, the availability of radiotherapy and access to new cancer drugs still compare unfavourably with Europe despite Britain actually spending more per head on cancer than France, Italy or Germany. But there are UK regional variations, inevitably leading to postcode prescribing.

The Government’s Cancer Reform Strategy offers little radical reform and no new money, but there are solutions: get the politicians right out of healthcare; bring new delivery systems that will revolutionise the system from within; let the service industry overhaul the cancer treatment experience; experiment with delivering cancer care closer to patients’ homes.

Britain is a world leader in cancer research but because of the inadequacies of the NHS, British patients are not benefiting.

Cancer care is going to improve dramatically over the next decade. Unless we get our house in order immediately, our future generations will miss out.


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