Yet more news of poor cancer care in the UK hits the headlines. A few weeks ago it was alarming statistics for breast cancer rates. This week a House of Commons committee compares survival rates here with other European countries and finds that something is wrong with our cancer services. The statistic that 10,000 more people die each year than if our health system was as good as our European neighbours is shocking.
There are also quite wide variations in survival rates in different parts of the country. This does not necessarily mean that our doctors are not doing well: part of the problem may be that patients here report symptoms later than they could. However there are also cases where GPs do not recognise signs of cancer and fail to make referrals.
Much of my work concerns people who have been diagnosed too late because of medical errors. It is very sad to see that harm errors can cause. Only last week one of my clients died after a year-long delay in diagnosis of her lung cancer after abnormalities on a CT scan had been missed. Had it been diagnosed in time she would have undergone surgery and in all probability would have been cured. Of course I only tend to see the cases where mistakes have been made.
The previous government made cancer care a top priority and there are some signs of improvements in survival rates. However the fact that other countries can do better suggests that there is still a long way to go in ensuring the cancer is diagnosed early and that patients have the best possible chance of a good outcome.
Paul Sankey is a solicitor specialising in clinical negligence. If you or a member of your family have a clinical negligence enquiry please call our expert clinical negligence solicitors on 0800 916 9049, fill in our short online claim form or email firstname.lastname@example.org and one of our specialist clinical negligence team will be in touch.