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NHS ‘not ready’ for increase in cancer patients, charity survey finds

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Fewer than one in 10 people in the north west think the government is making the necessary preparations for the increasing number of people who will be diagnosed with cancer in the future.

Macmillan Cancer Support warns that current pressures will only increase when the NHS will be called to cope with an increasing number of people diagnosed and living with cancer.

By 2030, an estimated 392,000 people are expected to be living with the disease in the north west. In 2015, there were around 240,000 people with cancer living in the area.

The survey also revealed wider concerns around the government’s performance managing pressures on the NHS.

More than one in two (55 per cent) of people living in the north west say that they don’t think the government is dealing with the current NHS pressures well.

On the other hand, the good news is that 73 per cent say that the NHS staff are doing a good job in supporting patients while these pressures on the NHS persist.

The survey asked a series of questions about the NHS, including people’s recent experience of using the health service and any problems they had encountered.

Most respondents say that they have experienced some kind of problem with the NHS. The most common reported problem is having to wait more than a week to book a GP appointment.

Other problems that people reported they experienced with the NHS included having an appointment cancelled or rescheduled by a hospital or GP, an operation cancelled or rescheduled, spoken to a health professional under stress or having to wait in A&E for more than four hours.

Jane Melvin, head of service in the north west at Macmillan Cancer Support, said: “We know that the cancer population in the north west is increasing.

“This poses a herculean challenge for our NHS and the society.

“It’s really important that people with cancer are able to access the best possible care, not only during their treatment and recovery, but from the moment they’re referred with suspected cancer.

“It is particularly alarming that people with cancer are very concerned about delays in getting GP appointments – this is a sign of a system struggling with current demands.

“We know the NHS is facing unprecedented pressure and doctors, nurses, and other healthcare professionals in the north west are working incredibly hard to meet the growing needs of patients.

“Macmillan is working hard with the NHS and healthcare professionals to meet the challenge and it is good to know that people have confidence in the NHS staff.

“However, there are concerns from patients that cannot be ignored. It is crucial that the government and health service listen and act now to ensure that cancer care remains a top priority so the NHS can achieve its ambition to deliver world class cancer care.”