Labour Candidate Julian Ware-Lane supports Labour’s one-week cancer test guarantee

julian portrait_01Cllr Julian Ware-Lane, Labour Candidate for Southend West, is backing Labour’s new pledge for a one-week cancer test guarantee.

The next Labour government will ensure that NHS patients in England will wait no longer than one week for cancer tests and results by 2020. Early diagnosis is a critical tool in the fight against cancer and this pledge could make a huge difference to those at risk from the disease.

The cancer test guarantee will be made possible by £750 million of new investment over five years, raised through a new levy on tobacco firms which make huge profits from their products which cause so much ill-health.

Julian also welcomes Ed Miliband’s wish that our health service have the best cancer survival rates in Europe, which could save up to 10,000 lives a year. The number of people waiting too long to get cancer tests are going up in Essex. In August this year, 63 patients waited longer than six weeks for cancer tests compared to 34 in the same month last year.

Julian said: “Many people I have spoken to in Southend West are concerned about David Cameron’s plans for the National Health Service. An expensive top-down reorganisation is not what is wanted at the moment, and the privatisation agenda sits ill with many. The Tories haven’t just destabilised our health service; they’re holding it back from meeting the challenges of the modern world as well. Only Labour can be trusted to protect and improve the NHS.”

“I am backing Labour’s pledge to guarantee that NHS patients in England will wait no longer than one week for cancer tests and results by 2020. Early diagnosis means treatment is more likely to be successful so this is an essential pledge if we’re going to lead the fight against cancer and save more lives in our area.”

We need an NHS that meets the challenges of the modern world. We need a modern health and care service that offers the best cancer survival rate in Europe. Only Labour can be trusted to protect the NHS and with the Time to Care Fund and the one-week cancer test guarantee, we’ll ensure we have a health service fit for the 21st century.

Advertisements

One Response to Labour Candidate Julian Ware-Lane supports Labour’s one-week cancer test guarantee

  1. Cllr Julian Ware-Lane, Labour Candidate for Southend West, is backing Labour’s new pledge for a one-week cancer test guarantee.

    Party Headquarters will be pleased to hear that!

    I am always a bit nervous about politicians announcing new targets. Whilst I instinctively welcome the idea of quicker diagnosis (positive or negative) – having experienced one sub two-week wait and one over two-week wait, I need to feel confident that this is an achievable target and not an aspiration.

    The claim (per Labour Party Website) is:
    a guarantee that no-one will have to wait longer than one week for cancer tests and results by 2020. (My emboldening)

    But:
    Suzy Lishman, vice president of the Royal College of Pathologists, said: “We’d all agree that diagnosing cancer at an early stage is a good thing to do but the important thing for the public to understand is that this doesn’t mean that all cancer tests would be done and a final diagnosis made within seven days. BBC News Website 18 October 2014 : Cancer test waiting times to be cut in England, Labour pledges

    Politicians cannot just “will it so”. We need to know that the medics and health managers will be able to develop the processes and resource allocation schemes necessary to meet the guarantee.

    For example: If you see your doctor on a Monday and he decides that you need a colonoscopy, in theory you could start taking the laxatives required almost immediately and you could then have the examination later the next day. If the examination reveals nothing untoward, you have met the target. If however biopsies have to be taken, normal processing (wax rather than frozen) is an overnight operation, which means that a skilled pathologist may be able to make an initial diagnosis sometime on Wednesday – so again the seven day target looks – at first glance – achievable.

    In process management terms the total processing time is less than seven days, and might be shrunk a bit by for instance adopting alternative processes for preparing biopsy samples (I am not sure that I would want a faster laxative procedure!). But the elapsed time might well be considerably longer because of the availability of resources (beds, nurses and health care assistants, operating theatres, theatre teams and specialists, and pathologists and oncologists), and the ability of the patient to just drop everything and instantly put themselves in the hands of the NHS.

    The question is “what is the optimal resource”? Keeping beds, theatres and staff available so that procedures like colonoscopies can be done virtually “on demand”, is very resource intensive – unless we are willing to see elective non-cancer procedures cancelled at times of high cancer diagnostic demand – or to see people shipped considerable distances across the country. Just having resource “on standby” is wasteful (in people and money) – and the argument can be made that that “standby” resource might be better allocated to “working” on other medical conditions (reallocating funds to more intensive physiotherapy after hip replacement is one area where I personally would see benefits – but it is not protected by a politician’s target).

    The two week target looks to be currently achievable in most cases and a “constant improvement orientation” should be seeking to bring the total elapsed time down. An aspiration of one week may be sensible, but isn’t a “one-week 100% guarantee” creating a stick with which to be beaten come the 2020 election? Failing to meet guarantees also increase cynicism and reduces trust.

    If we want better cancer outcomes, do we invest in reducing the diagnostic lead-time from two weeks to one week (big money and eye-catching), or do we invest in getting people to “present” a few months earlier (small money but not as sexy)?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: