The NHS has announced a new national training programme which will give an additional 200 staff the skills and expertise to carry out endoscopies by 2018. Endoscopies are tests where the inside of your body can be examined for cancer.
This is in addition to the extra 250 gastroenterologists the NHS has already committed to train by 2020. These newly trained staff will together be able to carry out over a half a million more endoscopy tests on the NHS by 2020.
These measures are part of a new approach to treating the disease, which have been announced by the Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt.
In this £8 billion investment, a target will be introduced by 2020 so people with suspected cancer will be given either a definitive diagnosis – leading to treatment – or the all-clear within 28 days of being referred by a GP. This could help save up to 11,000 lives a year. Currently, there are no limits on how long people have to wait to get the result.
In response to this announcement, our Chief Executive Mark Flannagan, said: “Waiting for a diagnosis is a very harrowing time for people. We welcome these measures that will speed up receiving the results of the tests.
“We’re pleased to see the increase in endoscopy staff, which will result in more patients being tested quicker. We know that prompt diagnosis of bowel cancer is crucial, as more than 9 in 10 people will survive if caught early. Shorter waiting times are essential if we are to move bowel cancer from common cancer killer to a rare cancer killer.
“The challenge now is to ensure that these new targets are implemented promptly if we are to see a radical improvement for all people affected by bowel cancer.”
Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt said: “For people who are worried they may have cancer, waiting for that all important test result is a nerve-wracking time. We have a duty to make sure this period of uncertainty is as short as possible. For those who get the all clear, they will have peace of mind sooner. Those who sadly have cancer will get treatment much quicker and we will save thousands of lives as a result. We’re making this investment as part of our ambition to lead the world in cancer survival – investment that’s only possible because of a strong economy.”
The changes follow a recommendation from the Independent Cancer Taskforce report, set up as part of the NHS’s Five Year Forward View, to examine how to improve cancer care and survival rates.