Just as I had been wondering whether this column was worthwhile, I received an email on behalf of Lawrence Dallaglio (former England rugby captain) inviting me to Westminster a couple of weeks ago, to discuss the failure of NHS England (NHSE) to provide the promised innovative radiotherapy for cancer patients.
The room was packed, and the meeting chaired by Tessa Munt MP, and attended by several other MPs, senior cancer specialists, clinicians, cancer patients and carers, and a TV crew.
Lawrence Dallaglio said he had been called in by the government to help drive things forward regarding this vital new treatment as little was happening.
After several meetings with very senior people from NHSE, a plan was agreed to treat cancer patients with this new technology at a cost of a mere £5m.
Understandably, Lawrence was very disappointed to later find that, despite these promises, NHSE had gone back on their word and ditched the plans.
He has since called the NHS a national disgrace, and so this meeting was called.
I was given the opportunity to speak, and reminded people that Gamma Knife gave me another four years despite all my brain tumours.
NHSE cruelly made me wait over six weeks for funding last time, despite the fact that the new policy which I helped to draft as a member of the Clinical Reference Group was already in place.
I mentioned that the NHS is still reported to be losing £5bn to fraud alone each year, and about the obscene amount of waste and enormous management salaries which are still being reported, and all remain a major issue.
We heard some sad accounts, including the harrowing tale of an only child who had died of aggressive colon cancer at 23 after NHSE refused to fund the treatment on a Cyber knife machine which was lying unused despite the pleas of six consultants who said she would have been a perfect candidate.
NHSE need to focus on these new technologies to help our clinicians improve patient outcomes.
Tessa Munt said the UK is falling further behind other countries in providing modern radiotherapy for cancer patients which cure more cancer patients than drugs by a huge margin.
I’m not surprised it has been revealed that one in eight radiotherapy machines are more than 10 years old and should have been replaced as they are way past their safety replacement date, as the drugs budget far eclipses that for radiotherapy.
It is reported that NHSE is the world’s biggest quango which costs the taxpayer £1.4m per day and still boasts of “putting patients first” whilst squandering large amounts of our money on highly paid managers, especially as they are about to take on another 50 senior managers at a minimum of say, £100k pa.
The cost of this new tranche of managers would fund the estimated cost of the promised radiotherapy treatment for hundreds of patients who have been left to suffer in pain, and offer them a glimmer of hope.
The NHS reorganisation promised that treatment options were to be made by our clinicians and not by yet more managers.
It’s high time something was done to stop these apparently unregulated and untouchable senior managers in NHSE from continuing to mislead and betray the most vulnerable sectors of society with false promises.
I am not surprised that this has happened and can only conclude that this is part of a plan to privatise the NHS.
The National Health Action party (NHA) who are fighting to save what’s left of our NHS, say it is already being privatised in many areas.
Already £1.2bn of cancer contracts are going to private companies with the biggest outsourcing to date of £700m for providing cancer care in Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent. This will lead to fewer treatment options due to the need to make profits.
The NHA is also calling for an investigation over private patients queue-jumping, where they are given priority over the elderly and emergency cases.
The NHS is running out of money and this should be addressed by significant improvements in efficiency and with increased funding from fairer taxation which means the Government must bite the bullet and collect the billions still lining the pockets of the super-rich.
Ministers now seem to have less responsibility for healthcare since the Health and Social Care Act.
Public Health Minister Jane Ellison
Indeed, Public Health Minister Jane Ellison said that the Government no longer has day-to-day control of the NHS as under Andrew Lansley’s sweeping reforms “we pretty much gave away control of the NHS”.
Tessa Munt has since asked two questions in the House of Commons which hopefully will lead to a satisfactory response from our Prime Minister before more patients die unnecessarily.
- Please show your support for us by signing this petition https://you.38 degrees.org.uk/petitions/stop-nhs-england-cuts-to-radiotherapy-funding