Efforts by a family to get the government to increase funding for cancer services in order to reduce the backlog
Campaigners have called for a nationwide cancer recovery plan to address the treatment backlog. They handed ministers a petition with more than 377,000 signatures yesterday.
It was the first anniversary of Craig and Mandy Russell’s #CatchUpWithCancer campaign, which they started after losing their daughter Kelly Smith to cancer in June of last year. Kelly died at the age of 31 from stage four bowel cancer, just weeks after her treatment was discontinued due to the pandemic.
“We started this campaign to make sure no other family suffers the way we have,” Craig, 52, added.
“It’s been a year, and I still don’t feel like the government is paying attention.
This has to be changed.
“Cleaning up the cancer backlog should be a political and financial priority, or we risk losing tens of thousands of more patients.”
While many people were looking forward to getting back to normal after the limits were lifted, Craig claimed his family’s life will never be the same.
“It was devastating,” he said of the moment Kelly was told her treatment would end.
“We all thought to ourselves, ‘She’s not going to last without treatment.’ That’s exactly what happened.”
Kelly’s disease was believed incurable, but the treatment could have extended her life and given her more time with her seven-year-old son Finley.
Since then, the group has heard from dozens of people who have been harmed by Covid’s delays in treatment and diagnosis. According to estimates, 40,000 fewer people began cancer treatment last year, and 350,000 fewer referrals were made.
The day was dubbed “a birthday the campaign never wanted to have” by the group. They indicated that their message was being heard throughout the cancer community, but that ministers did not appear to be paying attention.
Craig marched from Parliament to Downing Street yesterday, accompanied by eminent oncologist Professor Pat Price, MPs, and supporters.
They then went to the Department of Health and Social Care with the petition. Craig expressed optimism that the new Health Secretary, Sajid Javid, would be more understanding than his predecessor, Matt Hancock, of the need to restore non-Covid services.
“Work with us and physicians to understand the beast’s nature and what needs to be done to combat it,” Craig said. We’re not simply pointing the finger and saying, “It’s your fault; you need to do something.” ‘What can we do to help?’ we’re asking. The promotion will continue under the name “Brinkwire Summary News.”