Ed Miliband unveils £150 million cancer care plan

Ed Miliband addresses an audience at Manchester Metropolitan University. Picture: AFP/Getty Images
Ed Miliband addresses an audience at Manchester Metropolitan University. Picture: AFP/Getty Images
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MORE cancer testing will be carried out by family doctors under a £150 million a year plan announced by Ed Miliband to improve diagnosis of the disease.

Outdated radiotherapy machines will also be replaced in English treatment centres under proposals that would come into force next year, the Labour leader said.

The NHS needs a real plan with real money right now - not an IOU

Ed Miliband

The cash would also be used to fund Labour’s pledge for a guaranteed maximum one-week wait for cancer test results by 2020.

Mr Miliband, who is devoting this week to campaigning on the future of the NHS, has ramped up the direct attacks on David Cameron in recent days as he seeks to hang the straining service’s problems around the Prime Minister’s neck.

The Labour leader claims his Conservative counterpart has broken his promises on the NHS and accused the Tories of a “shabby” attempt to sneak out records revealing the Government had failed to meet a key cancer treatment target.

NHS documents released late at night on the last day of parliament show targets that cancer patient should start treatment within two months of urgent referral will not be met this year, Labour said.

Around 23,000 patients face waiting longer than the target time, according to the party’s analysis.

A Labour government would invest in new diagnostic equipment for GP surgeries to give patients rapid local access to testing, Mr Miliband said.

It would mean more ultrasound machines or X-ray machines installed at local practices and diagnostic clinics where patients could be given a range of different tests in one appointment.

A cancer drugs fund set up by the coalition to pay for medication rejected by the National Institute for Care and Health Excellence on cost grounds would be replaced next year with a cancer treatments fund that would partly be used to replace radiotherapy machines that have been in operation for more than a decade.

Ahead of a visit to Addenbrooke’s Hospital, Cambridge, the Labour leader said yesterday: “The NHS needs a real plan with real money right now - not an IOU.

“Yesterday I set out our NHS rescue plan for our first 100 days, our first Budget and our first year in office. Now I want to set out the next stage of our fully-funded plan, an investment of £150 million a year, every year in the key equipment patients need to get quick access to cancer tests and improve early diagnosis.

“There can be nothing more worrying for patients and their families than waiting to hear if you have this terrible disease. Speeding up cancer tests will help reduce the anxiety of waiting for a test result, improve early diagnosis, and ensure those who need it can start treatment sooner.

“And we know that early diagnosis dramatically improves the chances of successful treatment while saving the NHS on the costs of late intervention.

“So we are raising money through a mansion tax, closing loopholes enjoyed by the hedge funds and imposing a new levy on tobacco firms - to pay for the equipment needed to deliver our guarantee of one-week cancer tests.

“What a contrast with the Tories who promised extra money before for cancer treatment but ended up cutting cancer budgets. They have run a government that has taken the NHS backwards and now we have the shabby sight of them sneaking out evidence of their own failure on cancer treatment under cover of darkness and dissolution, hoping no one will notice.

“I’ve got news for David Cameron: the game’s up, you broke your promises on the NHS before and no one will believe you again in the future.”

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