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Tackle demands protection for people with prostate cancer after millions have been abandoned

Tackle has joined forces with other leading cancer charities eg Cancer Research UK and Macmillan Cancer Support to write to the Prime Minister and the other heads of regional parliaments to demand protection for men with prostate cancer to ensure that diagnosis, treatment and clinical trials will not continue to be delayed by COVID-19. The full text of the letter is as follows:

"Each of your governments has committed to improving cancer survival and ensuring that everyone can still receive cancer diagnosis, treatment and care throughout the COVID-19 crisis. As we enter a second wave of the pandemic, we need you to stand by these commitments. Now is the time to back the NHS and invest in cancer care, not only to get services get back on their feet but to transform cancer care in the UK into the world leading services we all want to see.

COVID-19 has made the challenge ahead tougher. Millions were left waiting for screening and thousands went without a referral for tests. Over 30,000 fewer people started their treatment and most cancer clinical trials were paused. NHS staff have worked tirelessly to give the best care possible, and the situation is improving, but they need more support.

We must learn lessons from earlier in the year. As COVID-19 cases rise again it’s imperative that there are no further delays to essential cancer diagnosis, treatment and clinical trials. In the coming months:

  1. The public must feel confident that if they have suspected cancer symptoms, they will receive a diagnosis swiftly and safely.
  2. Health systems need to have ‘COVID-protected’ safe spaces so that cancer patients can be cared for with minimal risk of exposure to COVID-19.
  3. There must be frequent and rapid COVID-19 testing for all NHS staff in primary and secondary care.
  4. We need measures in place to maximise service capacity, including use of the independent sector where needed.

But this alone will not be enough. Cancer services need your help to address deep seated challenges. Workforce and kit shortages – particularly in diagnostics – were holding back cancer services long before the pandemic. We simply need more staff, and for them to be fully equipped.

The UK Government’s spending review is ­­­an opportunity to put your weight behind your commitments, and give the NHS what it needs to provide the best cancer care - and for the devolved governments to do the same.

People affected by cancer have already suffered terribly as a result of this pandemic. We’re asking you to act now to uphold your ambition to improve cancer survival across our four nations".