As a County Councillor I have a seat on the Kent County Council committee that scrutinises health need and provision for Kent’s residents. The committee called the HOSC, Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee meets regularly and receives reports and updates for all of Kent’s health matters. Recent concerns about the Millbrook wheelchair contract, the location of Hyper Acute Stroke Units, the early closure of a Stroke unit and now serious delays to starting cancer treatment are all discussed.
A new report suggests nearly 1 in 4 suspected cancer patients are not starting cancer treatment in Kent when they should. Hospitals are meant to start treatment within 62 days of an urgent referral by a GP in 85% of cases. But only 76% of Kent residents were seen in that time frame.
Bear in mind we are already at a low point. Last week’s news about Britain being at bottom of global league table for cancer survival rates was shocking.
I say it’s time to listen to world leading organisations like Macmillan Cancer Care and Cancer Research UK, who are both calling for urgent action to boost staff levels. The RCN, Royal College of Nursing warms that there is a shortage of 40,000 nurses which will rise to 70,000 in the next 5 years. Specialist nurses are struggling with workload. Only Labour has a clear plan to boost our NHS.
This morning I was invited onto BBC Radio Kent to discuss the issue with presenter, Anna Cookson and health correspondent, Mark Norman.