Anas Sarwar: NHS in 'crisis' and cancer care at 'breaking point'
Anas Sarwar has claimed cancer care in Scotland is at "breaking point" as he called for a focus on recovery for the NHS.
The Scottish Labour leader met with former Celtic footballer John Hartson this morning to discuss the need to tackle waiting lists.
It is thought thousands of screening appointments were cancelled over the course of the pandemic, with 7,000 fewer cancer diagnoses in 2020 than in the year before.
Hartson spent 16 years as a professional footballer and was diagnosed with testicular cancer in 2009, which spread to his brain and lungs. The Welshman underwent chemotherapy and two brain operations on his way to recovery.
The 46-year-old, a cancer campaigner, has backed Labour's plans for a "national mission" to get cancer care back on track.
Sarwar said: "Thank you to football legend John Hartson for his endorsement. I have admired John’s campaigning for years, and it’s an honour to know he supports our plan to get cancer care back on track.
"While Nicola Sturgeon bickers with Boris Johnson over the constitution, the NHS is in crisis and cancer care is at breaking point.
"But it doesn’t have to be this way. On Thursday, Scotland faces a choice: either clear the backlog in cancer care, or spend the next five years fighting about a divisive independence referendum.
"Scottish Labour’s catch-up plan will make it our national mission to fix cancer care. We can get cancer treatment back on track, but we need to vote for it. Use your second, peach ballot paper for Labour for an NHS recovery."
Hartson, who also played for Arsenal and West Ham during his football career, said: "I know from my own experience that an early cancer diagnosis can change a life.
"It keeps me awake at night thinking about how many people have missed appointments during the pandemic, and might have cancer but not yet know about it.
"Anas Sarwar has put cancer care front and centre of his campaign. We need a national mission to get cancer care back on track, and I believe Scottish Labour has the plan to do it."