Former UK Health Secretary criticises NHS cuts as he reveals battle with bowel cancer

Written by Liz Bates on 3 April 2018 in News

Andrew Lansley has said spending cuts have led to a reduction in screening as he revealed he has been diagnosed with bowel cancer

Doctor: Picture credit - Lidor

Former Conservative Health Secretary Andrew Lansley has said spending cuts have led to a reduction in screening as he revealed he has been diagnosed with bowel cancer.

Writing in the Telegraph, Lansley said he was “lucky” to have caught the condition in its early stages after receiving tests, but added that others would not be as fortunate.

The former minister, who served in David Cameron’s Cabinet, introduced the health service’s national bowel cancer screening programme during his time as health secretary.

He said that due to funding cuts and staff shortages the life-saving 'bowelscope' programme was now only available to 50 per cent of the population.

Lansley would have been called up automatically had the scheme been rolled out as planned, however, he had only been promoted to his visit GP after “much nagging” from his wife, he said.  

Describing his own battle with the condition, he revealed he had endured a seven-hour operation on his bowel and was now undergoing chemotherapy.

He said that he had “every reason to hope” he will make a full recovery.

He told the Telegraph: “I want to know that for others like me in future, with better knowledge about symptoms, with earlier improved screening in place, and with a new focus on personalised preventative medicine, it really isn't about luck."

The Department of Health said it hoped to roll out a more effective bowel cancer screening programme, called Fit, later this year.

This comes after a new survey revealed that 530 cancer operations were cancelled this winter.  

A poll of 81 acute NHS trusts by the Health Service Journal found that over half were forced to cancel at least one operation between December and February.

Cancer charity Macmillan’s executive director of policy and impact, Fran Woodard, said: “Depending on the type of operation, a delay could mean that the cancer not only progresses in that time, but that the chances of survival are also affected.”

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