I sympathise profoundly with anyone who has been affected by breast cancer and I appreciate that organisations such as Breast Cancer Now work tirelessly to support people living with breast cancer, and their families, to raise awareness of the connected issues.
Despite the huge progress that has been made on improving cancer services, we still lag behind other countries, and there is worrying evidence that the progress we have been making on cancer care has stalled, or potentially even gone backwards.
It is concerning that the Government has missed the national cancer target - that 85% of patients should start treatment within 62 days of a GP referral - since January 2014. The target of 93% of patients with an urgent referral for breast symptoms to see a specialist within two weeks was also missed in each month between February and July this year.
At the General Election in June the Labour manifesto pledged to invest an additional £30 billion in the NHS to give patients the modern, well-resourced services they need. The manifesto also pledged to deliver the Cancer Strategy for England in full by 2020, guarantee access to treatment within 18 weeks, and take one million people off NHS waiting lists by the end of the next parliament. Unfortunately Labour lost the election.
I believe that improving cancer services and outcomes should be a key priority for the Government and that we should set an ambition for the NHS to have the best cancer survival rates in Europe. Key to this will be improving early diagnosis, public awareness and screening programmes, as well as ensuring that GPs have the training, resources and support they need to identify symptoms and refer patients quickly.