Prime minister promises £200m to upgrade cancer diagnosis and screening

Author: Mark Gould
Prime minister promises £200m to upgrade cancer diagnosis and screening

The prime minister Boris Johnson and health secretary Matt Hancock have promised £200m in new funding to modernise cancer screening and diagnosis, making it safer, faster and more efficient.

The Department of Health and Social Care says the new money is part of the NHS Long Term Plans aims to ensure that 55,000 more people survive cancer each year. through improved screening. It says new CT scanners use 80-90% less radiation making them safer, easier to use, more reliable, and more energy efficient.

They will also be able to carry out a wider variety of scans, which will enable more patients to be seen using less equipment. The new machines will be artificial intelligence (AI) enabled, to ensure they are AI ready when an update is available

Additionally, they will also pick up a range of other health conditions, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and help reduce inequalities in cancer outcomes. 

To support earlier diagnosis, the Department says the NHS is also introducing rapid diagnostic and assessment centres, helping to detect cancer in people with a range of symptoms like unexplained weight loss and abdominal pain.

Allocation of the new machines will be based on an assessment of local infrastructure and local population need, and the funding will be split across two years. It is estimated that there is a £6bn backlog of urgent repairs and upgrades to NHS estates and equipment.

In August the government committed £1.8bn, including to upgrade 20 hospitals across the country and for new equipment and AI research.

The government has also recently announced that another £210 million will be invested in frontline staff, including a personal training budget of £1,000 for every nurse. This is on top of the extra £33.9 billion every year to be invested in the health service by 2023 to 2024.

Prime minister Boris Johnson said: “The NHS is the best healthcare service in the world, and the treatment and care it provides is one reason cancer survival rates are at a record high.

“But too many lives are still being lost to this shattering illness. We can, must, and will do so much more for sufferers and their families.

“These new scanners will lead to quicker diagnosis, more screenings, and improved care for patients, giving brilliant NHS staff the tools they need to further boost survival rates.

“It’s my priority to make sure our NHS gets every penny it needs to provide the very best care ‒ wherever you live, and whatever your condition.”

Health and social care secretary Matt Hancock said: “I want to see the way we fight cancer in the NHS transformed, so we can confront this cruel disease with the best facilities to give our family, friends and colleagues the greatest chance.

“I’m determined to get cutting-edge equipment into hospitals across the country so that clinical staff are equipped with the best technology available for patients.

“This will be the first step in reaching our ambition through the NHS Long Term Plan of becoming a global leader in cancer diagnosis, saving the lives of tens of thousands more people each year."