NHS cancer plan is 'ineffective'

A report has suggested that the government's strategy to improve NHS cancer treatment may not be bearing fruit.

Analysts at the think-tank Civitas found that avoidable deaths from certain forms of cancer - bowel, skin, breast, cervical, testicular, Hodgkin's disease and leukaemia - fell by 15 per cent between 1999 and 2005.

However, they noticed that the rate of decrease in avoidable cancer deaths during the period between 1999 and 2004 was less than in the previous five-year period.

The report also claimed that the cancer mortality rate in England and Wales in 2004 was still higher than many other European countries, including France, Austria, Sweden and Finland.

James Gubb, director of the Civitas Health Unit and report author, said that the impact of the extra funding given for cancer care since the introduction of the NHS Cancer Plan in 2000 "has apparently been negligible at best".

"Some of the money was probably used to update equipment which was outdated but staff increases have come in the wrong areas so we have new diagnostic equipment sat in boxes," he told the BBC.

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