Speaking in Scotland Questions this morning, Grahame Morris MP called for a four-nation approach to tackle the Covid-19 crisis and protect radiotherapy services for people undergoing cancer treatment.
The Easington MP highlighted a survey conducted by Radiotherapy 4 Life which reveals the potentially fatal consequences of the current crisis for thousands of cancer patients. Speaking in the House of Commons, Mr Morris said:
“Is the Minister aware of a survey by the charity Radiotherapy 4 Life that there may be between 2,500 and 7,000 avoidable cancer deaths in Scotland because of delays to cancer treatments as a consequence of the NHS focus on the Covid-19 response.
Will he work with his counterparts in the four nations to prioritise radiotherapy by seeking to increase funding and remove bureaucratic restrictions to modernising radiotherapy and encourage the use of advanced radiotherapy to ensure more cancer patients can be effectively treated and potentially cured at this time?”
In response, Douglas Ross MP, the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Scotland, said:
‘The honourable gentleman raises an extremely important point, and we have to make it clear in Scotland, Wales, England and in Northern Ireland that our NHS remains open.
That message has been loud and clear; cancer patients should be aware that we will do everything that we can across the four nations, across the United Kingdom to get the treatment they need and deserve, but the ultimate message is yes, coronavirus has an impact on our NHS. Due to the actions of this government and the public, we have been able to suppress the Covid outbreak to ensure we haven’t breached capacity, but we can’t allow important medical matters to go untreated for too much longer, and that message is heard loud and clear throughout government.’
As vice-chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Radiotherapy, Grahame has been working with Macmillan Cancer Support and Radiotherapy 4 Life in recent weeks, lobbying the government to ensure that essential cancer services are not interrupted during the coronavirus crisis.