LETTER: Deep budget cuts

A SURVEY of all cancer networks in England carried out by the Labour Party has revealed deep budget cuts.

The budget for Lancashire and South Cumbria Cancer Network has been cut by 43%.

Despite Lib-Dem/Tory Coalition Ministers’ repeated promises that funding for these vital groups of experts would be protected, figures released recently show that in Lancashire and South Cumbria, our local cancer network, has seen its budget cut by £843,000 since 2009/10.

Meanwhile, the Government’s National Health Service reorganisation is causing huge uncertainty and confusion about the future of cancer networks – destabilising the crucial services and support they provide to sufferers and their families.

Reduced funding and another top-down upheaval in the NHS is forcing many of these groups of local specialists to cut their workforce, reduce existing and future projects to improve patient care, and reject additional grants from charities as they are unable to make commitments into 2013/14.

Across England, cancer network budgets have been cut on average by over a quarter since 2009/10, and their staff by a fifth in the same period.

The figures are even more disturbing when taken in the context of the latest research.

Published by Cancer Research UK, those figures suggest that by 2027, 50% of the male population will suffer from some form of cancer in their lifetime.

The figures for females not much better.

Today across Lancashire, we can see yet another broken promise from the Tory-led Coalition Government on the NHS.

Over the time Labour were in Government, we delivered fantastic improvements in the treatment of cancer patients, and the work of local cancer networks was key to this achievement.

Yet despite Coalition Ministers’ assurances they would protect local cancer experts, we can see that funding for our local network has fallen by 43% over the last four years.

As a result of David Cameron and Nick Clegg’s unnecessary structural reorganisation of the NHS, these crucial networks are being cut, their future is now uncertain, and it is patients throughout Lancashire who will pay the price of the Government’s failure.

MARK PORTER

Labour Candidate,

Pendle West Division, LCC 2013