Cancer screening 'betrayal' is bum deal for men
A screening programme to check people for one of the most deadly diseases in the country was supposed to have started this week. It has not — a victim, it seems, of the current NHS cash-crisis.
Last August, the government promised that a national screening programme for bowel cancer would begin in April 2006. It would have been the first national cancer screening programme in the UK to include men.
Bowel cancer kills 17,000 men and women in the UK every year — it is second only to lung cancer in the cancer-killers.
But, health minister Rosie Winterton admitted last week that so far not one of the testing kits needed to check for bowel cancer had been supplied and that she had no information on the budget to fund the programme.
She also admitted that the scheme would begin only in Rugby where a pilot project is already running anyway. The other areas selected to begin the programme will, the government 'hopes', now start in March 2007 — a year late.
However, the government refuse to see this as a climbdown. Last week their spokesperson continued to maintain that: 'There is absolutely no truth in the rumour that the national bowel cancer screening programme will be shelved. Funding has been agreed for the programme, which will be rolled out as planned from April 2006.' Not quite what Rosie Winterton admitted in the House of Commons.
Cancer Research UK have decribed this 'deliberate fudge' as a 'betrayal'.
'The Government has reneged on its promise over this,' said Cancer Research UK's chief executive Professor Alex Markham. 'To claim the programme is going ahead as planned is a distortion of the truth.
'The Government has fudged the issue and now says it "hopesâ€ the centres should be established by March 2007. Last year it pledged that it would start the scheme next week. This is a gross betrayal of trust and lives will be lost as a result of this vacillating behaviour.'
Hilary Whittaker, Chief Executive Beating Bowel Cancer, added: 'Last year we were told that £37.5m had been secured to start this life-saving screening programme and, after a very successful pilot scheme, would be introduced nationally by April.
'A screening programme of this scale (targeting 2 million people aged between 60-69) could reduce mortality by 15% - and, as the second biggest cause of cancer death in the UK claiming around 17,000 lives, we are now determined that there should be no further delay.
'We were promised a screening programme and we will fight until we have a screening programme in operation across the country. Bowel cancer is one of the most curable cancers, if caught early and we are appalled that this initiative could fall victim to the current cash crisis in the NHS.'
In 2005 the Government pledged that the scheme would cover 25% of the 4.5 million people eligible for screening within a year. Unless a lot of people move to Rugby this is not going to happen.
Page created on April 3rd, 2006
Page updated on December 1st, 2009