Experts in radiotherapy technology have urged the Health Secretary to step up funding so Britain can lead the world in the cancer-fighting treatment.
The “act now” call from global industry bosses comes as Steve Barclay faces pressure to provide more cash to help tackle the UK’s cancer treatment backlog.
Five CEOs are offering Mr Barclay their “collective expertise and support” in developing radiotherapy.
In a letter to him, they warn some of the more recent technological and modern developments may have not been fully recognised by the NHS.
The move adds further weight to the crusade by the Daily Express to boost radiotherapy funding.
NHS England’s cancer treatment objective has been pushed back a year to next March. It has missed its target of cutting the total number of patients waiting more than two months to the 14,000 pre- Covid level by around 10,000.
Meanwhile, Cancer Research UK predicts cancer diagnoses will rise from 385,000 to 500,000 by 2040.
The letter to Mr Barclay is from Xavier de Misouard, of Accuray, Stefan Vilsmeier of Brainlab AG, Gustaf Salford of Elekta, Chris Toth, of Varian and Vision RT’s Norman Smith.
It says: “By ensuring that patients have timely access to up-to-date radiotherapy treatment options, including access in more rural regions, we can improve survival rates and enhance the quality of life for those undergoing cancer treatment.”
The bosses added: “Modern radiotherapy can lead to significant cost savings in the long term, as fewer patients will require more expensive treatments and hospital stays and patients can be treated more efficiently.”
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“We stand united and ready to work with the UK Government and the UK radiotherapy sector to deliver truly world-class cancer care for the country.”
Shandi Barney, of trade body AdvaMed, said: “There is a huge opportunity to deliver world-leading cancer care through innovations in radiotherapy.”
Radiotherapy is needed for four out of 10 cancer cures and for half of all patients with the disease. A typical cure costs as little as £3,000, against up to £100,000 a year for some chemotherapy drugs.
A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: “We are laser focused on fighting cancer on all fronts and have invested £162 million into cutting-edge radiotherapy equipment to replace or upgrade more than 100 radiotherapy treatment machines so we can deliver the best possible outcomes for patients.”
“More than 124,500 cancer patients received radiotherapy in the 12 months up to February 2023, with 90% treated within 31 days.”
“We have increased the cancer workforce by 4,300 additional staff between 2016 and 2021 and invested an additional £50 million in 2022-23 to bolster the workforce further.”