Updated: Feb 17, 2021
Cancer must not become the forgotten C during the current public-health crisis. That is the message of former cancer nurse, Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath MP Neale Hanvey, following a virtual meeting with Cancer Research UK to mark World Cancer Day.
Mr Hanvey, who was divisional nurse director for rare cancer at the Royal Marsden Hospital prior to entering politics, has raised concerns about the profound impact Covid-19 is having on Fifers living with cancer. He said that despite the best efforts of incredibly hard-working NHS staff, there has been disruption to services that has created a backlog of cancer care, with Macmillan estimating that there are 50,000 people in the UK yet to receive a cancer diagnosis from last year.
This intervention comes as statistics from south of the border show that referrals for suspected lung and urological cancers were down significantly as a result of the pandemic. A report from Public Health Scotland late last year also showed a drop of 22 percent in the number of cancer patients who were referred for tests and scans or started treatment between April and June 2020.
This intervention is the latest in a series of campaigns run by Mr Hanvey into issues relating to cancer care and research. In November last year, the local MP coordinated a cross-party campaign, in conjunction with the leading national charity dedicated to research into childhood cancer, Children with Cancer UK, to pressure the UK government into creating a scheme designed to support medical research charities who are suffering from a severe reduction in income as a result of the pandemic.
Mr Hanvey also previously raised concerns about the cancer recovery plan with Sir Simon Stevens, Chief Executive of NHS England, at the Health and Social Care Select Committee.
The Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath MP remains the SNP member and spokesperson for the prestigious Health and Social Care Select Committee chaired by former Tory Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt MP.
Commenting, Neale Hanvey MP said:
“There are a lot of stats flying around about cancer care across the UK, but what is clear is we have folk in the NHS working incredibly hard to treat and support people living with cancer. Take the Maggie’s Centres, these are open across Fife – supporting folk in person and by phone at the Victoria Hospital and beyond.
“But clearly the public-health restrictions have an impact on all of us, and that includes people living with cancer. I know from my time supporting cancer patients that the process can be very isolating in normal times, so the restrictions are having a disproportionately negative impact on them.
“That’s why I’m using my meeting with Cancer Research UK to speak out about the need to focus on cancer care at the same time as dealing with the pandemic. My message to Fifers is clear: if you have symptoms, get checked; if you need support, it’s open and available.
“And thank you, again, to the amazing NHS Fife staff doing an incredible job in the most difficult of times.”
Shaun Walsh, Head of Public Affairs and Campaigning at Cancer Research UK, said:
“A big thank you to Neale for joining us to raise awareness on World Cancer Day, even if we’re not able to do it in person this year.
“It’s been a tough year for what the pandemic has meant not only for cancer care but also research. We’re expecting to see fundraising income decline by £160m this financial year and by £300m over three years as a direct result of the Covid-19 pandemic. Uniting to beat cancer has never been more important.
“That’s why we want to work together with Neale in the months ahead to secure a long-term strategy to help recover, rebuild and rethink how we transform cancer services to help the patients of today and tomorrow, protect vital services and ensure we’re investing and building on years of scientific breakthroughs, not falling behind.”
Click here to read the story covered in the Fife Free Press